The past couple of days I have had some humbling experiences and they have all occurred on buses! Yesterday I was heading into the city centre to meet one of my University flatmates for coffee. As the bus jerked around a corner, about fifteen minutes outside the city centre, a poor elderly woman who had lost her footing tumbled to the floor and landed face down. Although I was one of the nearest people to her I just froze. I’ve never been in a situation like that before but I’d always thought I would be one of the people that would instantly get up and help. But I just sat there. The woman’s daughter got up to help her and another woman close by and I felt that I’d missed my chance, she wouldn’t have wanted everyone to help as she was already in tears out of embarrassment. I know that I should’ve done something in retrospect but the other women had already got her sitting up and were clearing up the blood around her eye, the bus driver had stopped the bus and was already on the phone to the ambulance. There literally was nothing I could do. I could’ve given her my water to help calm her down but I think that would’ve been a pathetic attempt to help out. I just sat there with the rest of the passengers waiting for the ambulance to come and help her. It felt like forever until they arrived. But it has constantly been on my mind that maybe I should’ve helped her. I’m hoping that if I’m ever caught in a situation like that again (touch wood that I’m not), then I will be one of the people that gets up instantly to help. My mum would’ve done, my boyfriend would’ve done, but I just froze.
Also, this morning I was waiting at the bus stop to go and meet another friend at Starbucks. As I arrived at the bus stop and elderly gentleman greeted me with “HELLO THERE MY DEAR, HOW ARE YOU?”. “I’m erm, fine thanks, erm how are you?” I responded, slightly creeped out by this stranger’s sudden outburst. “WHAT BUS ARE YOU WAITING ON? THERE’S A __ HERE IN 2 MINUTES!”. “Great thanks!”. Then he took a phone call. After thinking about this a bit longer I started to wonder about why I was so creeped out by this man. He was genuinely being nice and telling me when my bus was arriving. But it just shows how my generation has been brought up – to be suspicious of strangers; not to engage in conversation with people we don’t know. It’s interesting how the way we have been brought up stops us from acknowledging kindness, as it was only afterwards that I realised he wasn’t trying to kidnap me or creep me out – he was genuinely telling me when my bus was arriving. I should be used to that sort of thing having been out in public with my mum – she starts up conversations with anyone and everyone. But it also makes me wonder whether we should be exercising as much caution as we are taught to? Maybe if I hadn’t I would’ve shown more gratitude to that man at the bus stop.