Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Stranger to Philly Attitude!

I caught the train after work this evening like I do every day. Upon arriving at my train stop, which is about a mile from my house, I noticed the bus that I usually take home pulling away from the stop just as I was descending the train station stairs to the street. Missed it by a hair! For some reason, I really didn't feel like waiting at my regular bus stop for another ten minutes so I began the walk home and figured I'd just jump on the next bus that caught up with me.

After walking for only a few minutes, I turned and saw the next bus about a block behind me. Much earlier than I expected! And I just happened to be standing by a bus stop. Could this situation BE any better? I waited for about twenty or so seconds until the bus pulled up to my stop........and suddenly began to pull away! I flailed my arms and made some kind of verbal exclamation before the bus soon came to a halt. As I entered, the driver yelled "You're standin' there like you don't WANT the bus!!!" I was flabbergasted. You know that scene in Anchorman when Ron Burgundy says "I'm not even mad; that's impressive!" to his dog Baxter, who had just eaten a whole wheel of cheese and pooped in the refrigerator? That's kind of how I felt. Here was a professional SEPTA bus driver, lashing out at me because, according to her logic, I was standing at the bus stop because I didn't want to get on the bus. I could barely even be angry at such an asinine statement.

This same driver had actually blown by me in similar fashion at a bus stop this past summer and angrily claimed that "You weren't looking!!!" even though I was stepping off the curb toward the bus with my SEPTA transpass in hand. Given tonight's recurrence of events, I'm ashamed to say that in the moment, my pride got the best of me and I said some pretty rude things back to her regarding her ability to function in her current occupation. She, naturally, shot some venomous hot air right back at me. Needless to say, this made a scene amongst the other passengers, who didn't really know how to react. I sat down in the middle of the bus and didn't say another word. The driver, however, kept on saying things just loud enough that I could hear, but not loud enough that she would seem like she was trying to create another verbal war.

At that moment, I instantly felt nothing but sadness for this woman. I wondered what was going on in her life that she felt the need to start fights with passengers; I wondered where all the anger was stemming from; I wondered how I could pray for her. At that moment, I felt tremendously convicted in my heart about the way I'd talked to her and for the scene I'd made in front of the other passengers. While I get angry like everyone else, I'm not really a confrontational person and I'm certainly not someone who blows up at people in public. My behavior was inexcusable, regardless of whether or not the driver had been doing her job poorly or unprofessionally.

As my stop approached, I thought about hopping out the back door. But that just wouldn't justify the way I'd acted. I made my way to the front of the bus and said "Have a good night. I apologize for yelling at you." She softly muttered something that I couldn't quite make out, but I'm pretty sure it was an acceptance of my apology. As I walked up to my house, I prayed that the Lord would enable this woman to overcome whatever it is that's causing so much bitterness and anger to manifest itself toward total strangers.

I believe that broken people can be healed; that relationships can be restored; and that all wrongs will ultimately be made right. During that time, those of us who follow Christ, like myself, ought to be willing to be used toward this process, not against it. Tonight, I confess that my foolish actions worked against it. While I'm grateful that I got the chance to apologize, I am hoping for another opportunity to show kindness to this woman who, like me, suffers from occasional bouts of Philly attitude.