Monday, December 17, 2007

Well folks, I've decided that there is hope for humanity after all. (Warning: You'll find no yarn in the following story.)

Last Thursday I went down to Boston for a business meeting. I took the bus, which is every Mainer's friend when going to Boston. The trip down was smooth and uneventful. I had my meeting, met my brother for a nice lunch, and then...wham. Snow arrived. By the time I made it back to South Station, the city had shut down and there was a mass exodus out of town. I stood in line waiting to board the 2:15 bus. And then the ticket guy came out and said, "I have room for four more." I counted ahead of me... one... two... three... four... and then me.

Fifth in line. So I stood as the 2:15 left and waited for the 3:15, not wanting to abandon my prime spot in line. Around us, chaos reigned. All buses heading south were canceled. Angry New York-bound passengers steamed to and fro, yelling, huffing, puffing, and generally Not Helping Things. But the line of folks headed to Maine stayed calm and philosophical. "These things happen," said the guy behind me, smiling.

So the 3:15 arrived. Joy! We boarded. We got comfortable. I took out my iPod and settled in. And then the driver climbed on board and announced that they'd had an emergency at Logan and needed the bus. "You'll have to disembark and wait for the next bus, which should be here in about 30 minutes." We all got off and massed back inside -- my pristine spot in line lost forever. Not something to be fought, I told myself. I just want to get home. It's ok.

Finally the next bus finally arrived. I prepared for a jostle, and I hoped for a seat this time around. And then the crowd ahead of me parted. People looked back in the crowd until they spotted me, and then someone said, "That's her -- she's been waiting here the longest, she should board first." The others agreed and parted so that I could walk up front.

Quite frankly, this blew my mind. And this simple act of human kindness kept my heart warm and hopeful even as we proceeded to get caught in the most astounding Boston gridlock I've ever experienced. The streets were a snowy chaos, cars in every direction, no lanes, nobody paying any attention to the traffic signals, and nobody moving.

We watched our first movie.

We watched our second movie.

I napped as they started to replay the first movie again.

And during this time we barely reached the outskirts of Boston. (The same town from which we'd left, if I need remind you.)

We were all together in this bus with nothing to do but be together. Nobody was fighting it. I listened to people tell their life stories to one another. I listened to them offer advice, jokes, laughter, compassion. I listened to people call home and say goodnight to their children. And as we pulled into the Portland bus station SEVEN hours after we'd left (it's a two-hour ride normally), we all applauded the driver. If our butts hadn't fused with our seats by that point I'm sure we would've given him a standing ovation.

Did I mention I hadn't brought any knitting with me? As I said, there's no yarn in this post.

12 comments:

Jane said...

That's a wonderful story! Makes me want to run out into the snow and shout Merry Christmas, like Jimmy Stewart! Wait. We have no snow. Still...

Linda said...

God bless us everyo...wait...you had no knitting with you?

Seriously, though, people do surprise you when you least expect it. Glad you arrived home safe.

Catherine said...

That does it - I want to move to Maine.

What a great story. Merry Christmas!

purlewe said...

that was a great story. I really wonderful one during this time where people seem to always have their panties in a bunch. Glad to hear it went so well and that the spirit of the season prevailed.

Mary said...

No knitting -- that could have been a tragedy!

That story speaks to the quality of folks who live in Maine. I'd be surprised if there was a similar heart-warming story on the NY-bound bus.

Reminds me of a time when I was flying home from a week out of town for work, and looking forward to leaning my head against the window for a nice nap. As I got to my seat, the woman next to me asked if I'd switch with her daughter, in the row ahead, in the MIDDLE seat -- yeck. I was tired, exhausted, weighed my options, and really wanted to say no. But thought, it's just a few hours, I'll survive. So I said yes, and the gal in the aisle seat in the row in front of me insisted on switching seats with me so that I'd at least have an aisle seat. I think they call that "one good turn deserves another". People will surprise you....

Mrs. Lear said...

What a story! In the film version you should wear a red knit cap for the scene when the crowd parts, but you're wearing your ipod and don't hear the people saying, 'that's her" - you just sit there singing! Merry Christmas!

Jennifer said...

Amazing ... wonderful.

I really can't believe that you didn't have any knitting with you, though. I find that equally amazing.

xxoo Jen

maxine said...

One of the lessons I learned this past year, always, I guess that's ALWAYS! have knitting in my bag, even if I *know* I will not be able to get any knitting done.

May that random act of kindness carry you through the season and into the new year. Happiest of holidays!

Marg in Calgary said...

Lovely and heartwarming, dear Clara! But noknitting?! Horrors! I never leave home without it! And I trust, henceforth, neither will you...

Christmas Blessings,

Marie said...

Hey, it sounds like a Mary Tyler Moore moment (especially if you twirled your knit tam in the air)--wait, better yet, it was a "That Girl!" moment, that's it!

BERMD said...

That is a great story. I would say that the trip to Boston did not have a bad effect on your fellow passengers, despite the reputation we have down here. Why not the DownEaster? I guess the schedule is not as convenient. That storm was something.

Happy New Year.

Serena said...

Hello, Ms. Clara! I loved this story. In fact, I was wondering if you would consider submitting it to a Blog Carnival I'm guest-hostessing next week called The Carnival of Cities. The deadline is Jan 13th. Look at my "Mexican Pop Spot" blog for the information on the call for entries. I'd be honored!