Monday, May 23, 2011

Lessons Learned from…Bus drivers

You can tell a lot about a city from its bus drivers. Are they helpful? Hostile? Overworked? Underpaid? The bus drivers in Halifax are some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. Most of them make passenger assistance their personal mission – waiting for you as you run to catch the bus, letting you put in double fare next time if you don’t have change, and generally behaving like driving a bus has been their lifelong goal. I doubt it has been, but it’s a solid lesson in ‘bloom where you’re planted’.

Last Friday I found myself taking the bus for the fourth day that week; our nonstop rain made me leave my bike at home once again. Halfway to work, I hear a bang. Our bus has rear ended the vehicle in front of us. I’ve been the cause of (many) accidents. My typical post accident-routine is to pass through several stages of freaking out, but this bus driver clearly had a more grounded outlook than I. He invited the other driver on the bus, exchanged insurance information and calmly wished him good day. All with serenity, as if he was buying toilet paper. I watched the entire scene in envy and awe.

For Lent this year, I decided to give up being hard on myself. It was immensely successful for the isolated 40 days, but after Easter I felt myself slipping back into my old habits. Beating myself up over spilled milk, spoiled muffins and soiled clothing once again became my norm. I’m a dweller and “moving on”, even over minute details, is challenging. Understandably, this tends to drive those around me a little crazy.

But today, using the experience I gained during Lent and the example of the bus driver, I finally made some progress. Paying bills this morning, I accidentally paid $98 to the wrong account. You know what I did? I acknowledged that I made the error due to carelessness and called the bank to deal with it. Already I feel the memory receding.

Sometimes learning a lesson takes time. Sometimes we need to learn it multiple ways, from various angles, until it sinks in.

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