Humility, responsibility, and gratitude definitely go hand in hand. I was again reminded of this fact on Tuesday when, after many things out of my control resulted in missing a bus to Philadelphia and consequently missing a rehearsal, I had to make a call.
After getting the times of the next schedules out of Baltimore, I both called and emailed both the conductor and personnel manager, and waited, thinking "If I'm replaced, then so be it."
Fortunately, the conductor was forgiving, and I'm still playing the concert. THAT, however, is not what this essay is about.
One of the things that I love about my life in Baltimore is that I live in a part of the city that is a serious transit hub. Not only is the light rail station ten minutes away, but the corner of Falls Road and Northern Parkway is a transfer point for three major bus lines here, including the #27 which takes me literally from my front door to the Greyhound Bus Terminal. That in mind, waiting for the bus home from the Greyhound was no big deal.
As I waited, a blonde man came walking towards me - he too was going to take the #27 Northbound. He said hello, and we exchanged a few words. This man seemed to be a humble man, a kind man - and a man who needed a great deal of compassion as he had in his possession a LARGE suitcase (with wheels), a smaller suitcase (also wheeled), and three handbags of various size that were overflowing with aluminum soda cans, potato chip wrappers, and many other things.
Of course, when one gets on the #27 in that part of Baltimore one should expect the bus to be crowded. It was - I let the man go before me, as he had a lot to carry while I had my violin case. Again, I found myself impressed by this gentle soul as he both smiled and apologized to the people sitting at the front of the bus.
They, however, spent most of the ride laughing at him and talking about him. The words are words that I shall not repeat, and I trust that I do not need to as we have probably all either said them or thought similar things upon seeing someone in such dire straits. I remained silent (and uncomfortable) as a few people, while ridiculing this weathered man under their breath, took photos of him to post on Instagram (?!). They all got off of the bus before he did - in fact, he exited just a few blocks away from my home.
You may ask why I write this tonight - and here's the answer. We've all read stories of incredibly educated and visibly wealthy people who, after series of unfortunate circumstances, become homeless and destitute. Furthermore, I'm sure that more of us have lived on the edge of homelessness than not. Perhaps we should remember that and resolve both to live with a bit more gratitude while also thinking AND acting with a bit more compassion when we see a fellow man in distress of any kind
Perhaps? YES, we should - because the switch could flip for any of us, at any time...and at that time, shall we remember feeling pity, giggling, or reacting with a bit of disdain and disgust upon seeing the person carrying the weight of the world (and all of his worldly possessions) in two suitcases on a crowded bus?
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