Bringing good manners back from the Twilight Zone

It was a dark and rainy night. This is the classic opening line for creepy stories, and I’m using it for this post because it’s about a very strange bus ride I had the other night.

As I was saying, it was a dark and rainy night. (It really was.) Did I mention it was cold? Well, it was cold, and I was bone tired. The bus, when it finally arrived at my stop, was packed. I got on, resigned to standing all the way to the Skytrain station, about 20 minutes away.

Imagine my surprise when a nice young man got to his feet and offered me his seat. I sat down, a little bemused…then glimpsed the full moon through the bus window and thought, “Ah, that must be it.”

But there was more strangeness to come. As we approached the next stop, the bus driver announced over the PA system, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Heather Street. Please watch your step getting off the bus. Have a good night.”

Now I’ve encountered polite bus drivers, helpful bus drivers, cheerful bus drivers…but never one that was as simultaneously polite, helpful, and cheerful as this one. He sounded more like a flight attendant than a bus driver.

“Maybe he used to be a flight attendant,” I decided, then thought no more about it…

…until the next announcement.

“Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. If you are standing, please make sure you are holding on…and please note that the use of profanity is not allowed on board this bus.”

My jaw dropped. This might be the most surreal bus ride I’d ever had, but the flight-attendant-bus-driver was fast becoming my hero.

The clincher came when we got to the Skytrain station at Broadway.

“We are approaching our final destination,” came the announcement. “Please make sure you have all your belongings before you leave. It’s been a pleasure having you on board. Have a lovely evening.”

In case you’re wondering, let me assure you there was nothing even remotely tongue-in-cheek about this bus driver. His tone was unfailingly courteous, pleasant, and sincere. His announcements provoked the occasional snicker, but also a lot of smiles and a palpable lightening of mood as the ride progressed. By the time we got off at our “final destination,” there was a wave of easy laughter, and a chorus of “Thank yous” as we left the bus.

And then I remembered the young man who had given me his seat and wondered if maybe the bus driver hadn’t had more than a little to do with that small act of kindness…maybe not in any direct way, but more likely through the gentle influence of the courtesy and care he had shown to his passengers.

And it got me to thinking of how each of us could exercise that same influence on our own surroundings, if we would only choose to.

Bring good manners out of the Twilight Zone? Why not?

Stranger things have happened, after all.


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