On Time

There is nothing I hate hearing in the morning more than my alarm clock. To be fair though, I’m sure it hates me even more the way I abuse that snooze button (I really gotta stop taking 45 minutes to get out of bed). Anyway, I went to lab late last night to get some work done and went back home around 5am to take a nap before my class. HORRIBLE IDEA!

So of course once my alarm goes off, my snooze button reflexes immediately activate. About an hour later, I decide I might want to try to make it to class on time. I get up, get myself ready, eat a really quick breakfast, and make it out the door just in time to miss my bus. -_______-

So now I’m standing in the cold waiting for the next bus to come, expecting to be late to class. Pretty soon, a 30/40-year-old white woman in pajama pants and a sweatshirt walks over to me and asks, in a very demanding voice, what bus goes to Forbes Avenue. Slightly taken aback by this woman’s brash tone, I hesitate and then answer that the 67 and 69 could get her there. Then she tells me “that’s not the answer I was looking for”, but it came out as “no, I need the 71C.” Confused as to why she even asked me that question if she knew what bus she was looking for (not to mention the fact that the 71C doesn’t go down Forbes Avenue), I simply explained that the 71C also makes a stop here. She then took out a cigarette and started smoking it near me, which just sealed my annoyance with her. Keep in mind, I was running on a couple of hours of sleep and standing in the cold after missing my bus thinking about the huge load of work I still had to accomplish, and now I’m being harassed by Grumpelstiltskin. I just kept looking down the road hoping that I would see the glimmer of a bus’s lights soon so I wouldn’t have to endure this woman anymore. In comes the plot twist…

While we’re standing at the bus stop in silence, the woman stopped huffing down her cigarette long enough to say “Is it okay if I rant to you?” All I could think was “here we go.” So I oblige her and I come to find out that she’s doing rehab for a pain medication addiction she’s had for years. She was there to get a ride to a treatment center and was instead told that she had to take the bus on her own in an area that she wasn’t familiar with at all. She was understandably angry and I started to feel bad for her (and embarrassed at how I judged her before). I tried to offer her my jacket since she was clearly cold, but she just thanked me and declined. As we continued to wait for the bus, she asked if I had a phone she could use. I let her use it thinking she was calling someone close to her to let them know what was going on. She called one number 14 times with no answer. She kept trying and trying but no one picked up. Eventually, the bus came, so she stopped trying.

She told me where she was headed and coincidentally her stop was one away from mine, so we both got on the bus and when we got to her stop I got off with her, to her surprise. I helped her find the building she was looking for. She was pretty shocked that I would go out of my way to help a complete stranger like that. She kept thanking me for helping her out and telling me how shitty she was feeling because she felt like no one was looking out for her when she needed support. The whole thing was the most humbling experience I’ve had in recent memory.

After I got her to her building and wished her luck on her road to recovery, I thought about the circumstances that put me in that spot. I had been so disappointed with myself for waking up late and missing my bus considering where I had to be, but how awesome it was to find out that those 20 extra minutes of my time made a huge difference in the life of a complete stranger. No, I didn’t erase her debt or heal her illness, but I showed her that at least one person cares. While I walked to my class, already 15 minutes late, I prayed to God that He would take care of this woman that I had just met, make her rehab a successful one, and thanked Him for putting me in a position to be on time for her.