Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Looking at life from two sides of a coin.

It's been one year since I've blogged seriously, but there are certain situations where life just surprises you, or rather frustrates you. In these cases you can't help but vent, and today's post is about one such incident that took place today afternoon.

I was on my way downtown for an interview today and just like the past few days, Toronto was as hot as an open furnace. Imagine me sitting in a moderately crowded bus decked up in a suit and tie. Saying that I couldn't wait to get to the subway would be an minor understatement.

The ride usually takes 15 minutes or so on a normal day. Ten minutes into the ride, a little cute black kid got onto the bus with his two younger brothers. I was sitting towards the front of the bus so I did get a good view of them. Super cute, all three of em'. He must not have been more than ten years in age and his brothers definitely just four or five years old.

The kid put in the money for him and his two brothers but then I felt something was wrong because the driver seemed pissed. He wouldn't go on he said because the kid hadn't put enough money for their bus rides. That's when I noticed the driver - an old white guy, probably around 60 years of age. He had this stone cold mean look on his face, which made it seem like he couldn't smile even if he wanted to. He was like "Get off the bus kid, you cannot ride in here until you've given me the exact amount". I realized that the kid had calculated a lesser rate for his brothers but the driver wouldn't allow it cos they had to be younger than two years or something. Obviously the kid was embarrassed and he tried joking it off by telling his younger brother "Hey, you're more expensive than I'd imagined!" But the driver would have none of it, he told them he would drive on to the next stop and they would have to get out if couldn't cough up the necessary change.

My initial feelings of frustration that the bus wouldn't move cos of these kids by now changed to sympathy for them. The older kid genuinely seemed embarrassed and helpless. His younger brothers just looked scared and confused. So off we went to the next stop, and once the new passengers had got on, the driver didn't move on. Instead, he started yelling at these kids again to give him the necessary money. The kid said he had nothing more so the driver told them they had to get out. He even started yelling at them along the lines of them trying to cheat him and what not. And based on how the TTC works, he couldn't give them back the cash they had put in as well, which means would have to lose their money and miss their ride as well.

I looked around now expecting some of the bus passengers to help the kids out, but nobody made a move. Everyone was too busy on their smartphones or talking among themselves. By now I was furious at the driver for acting so inhumanely towards the kids. C'mon old man, let these kids be! Don't ask them to step out into the sweltering heat with no money! But those were only my thoughts, and I then realized I was doing nothing as well, just like the rest of the passengers. And so I decided to take charge. I looked into my wallet, took out a 2$ (toonie) coin and called out to the kid, "Hey, take this, is this enough?" OMG the look on the kid's face just melted my heart. He looked shocked and shyly said "No, it's too much." I asked him how much was he short by and he whispered "35 Cents". And so I dug into my wallet again, and I'm not kidding, this is what I came up with. Two dimes, two nickels and four pennies. I kid you not. I had exactly 34 cents left and I was short by one cent! ONE friggin' CENT.

And so I had no option but to offer the toonie to the kid again. I was "Hey, just take it, it's fine." But for the life of me, I still don't know why, his pride wouldn't allow him to take it. He again shyly spoke up, "No thank you sir, that's nice of you but it's still too much." I insisted saying "Hey kiddo it's totally fine, just give it to the driver" and his face seemed so embarrassed that it just broke my heart. But he still didn't take the money, cos his heart wouldn't allow it I suppose.

I was aghast. Here I was, in my suit and all, worrying about my future job and whether I would get it, how much would I make, etc. while this little black kid who was about to thrown out of the bus along with his brothers, wouldn't still take my toonie because he didn't think it was fair. And that's exactly what happened then. The driver forced them to get out of the bus and the three kids went sadly trudging off into the heat.

I felt emotions of pure anger, rage, sadness and bewilderment run through me. Suddenly, life was thrown into perspective. On one hand I was mad at the driver and felt like I could beat him up. On the other hand, I think my heart had shattered into a million pieces for the little kid and his brothers as well. My mood was destroyed and as I got into the subway and saw hundreds of passengers again merge into the distance, I didn't even feel like going to my interview. It just didn't seem fair - Life just didn't seem fair!

We all move on with our lives though. I went on to complete my interview, come back home and go out and enjoy soccer with friends. I don't know what happened to the little kid and his brothers. All I can say is that God bless that kid, his honesty and his self-pride. He'll be rewarded some day, I'm sure of it.