I often find myself thinking about what it would be like to see the world from a different perspective. You see, I'm privileged. I'm healthy, strong, fed, happy, able bodied... you get the idea. So each and every day, I drive this big steel contraption around, picking up people and dropping them off. It's all a big routine. I get up early, and make a thermos of coffee. Next up, the Crunchy Peanut Butter sandwich, and pack an apple. Off to work. I grab the same work docket every day, and head out to grab whatever bus I get assigned to drive. Then I drive in circles for a few hours, picking up the usual suspects, grab sips of coffee on the go, take tickets, and give transfers to the same folks day after day. I try to smile at most of them, especially the few "dumpfaces" I get every day. If I can get a person who always walks around looking like they need a good dump to SMILE!, that's a score for me. Mind games keep me sane, sort of. Day in, day out... routine. Same roads, mostly the same traffic, people, delays, repeat... repeat...repeat.
And then I meet someone who changes the way I think about everything.
"What the hell are you idiots thinking, anyway?" she asks me as I'm just getting ready to close the door.
I had just emptied my bus at the end of my line, and here's this angry looking woman pulling up to my door in her wheelchair. She wasn't on my bus, and I had nearly just closed the door in her face as she was trying to (for lack of a better term) "talk" to me.
"I'm sorry?" I replied, thinking this wasn't going to go well, regardless of what I said at that moment in time.
"No you're not. You're not bloody sorry. Pathetic." She stammered out, and hit the joystick on her chair, whizzing off.
I wheeled my bus off the platform, rolled over to a layup spot, and used my three minute break to eat the remaining half sandwich I had started earlier. Time flies when you're having lunch. Sandwich done, I rolled onto my stop to start my next trip, and guess who's waiting for my bus.
We had a short greeting, acted as if nothing happened, and rolled onward. A few minutes into the ride, I hear:
"I'm sorry, by the way."
She then goes on to explain to me that the driver of the previous bus had simply sped off on her as she was trying to open a door. She felt she had made eye contact with the driver, but he just left. The next bus on that line was in three hours, and now she had to take my bus and use her wheelchair motor to bring her the extra estimated kilometer it would take her to get home. She was running late and had real things to do.
This really got me thinking. How many times have I lamented putting out that ramp, for the extra few seconds it would take away from my sandwich?
Can you imagine being in someone else's shoes? How about their wheels? I spent the better part of the next few days looking at the obstacles this woman must face. I mean REALLY looking. At sidewalks. At stairs. At garbage bins left in her path. At restaurant tables and booths. At the steps to my home. I tried to imagine life from the other perspective, and found my own willpower lacking. I stopped looking for the remote control once after a few seconds, heading directly for the T.V. button on the front panel. The path of least resistance does not exist for a person who relies on a chair to get around.
I'm trying to think of how my actions affect people every day by thinking of where people are coming from and where they are going. I'm deconstructing my routine, and thinking about how all these connections work for everybody. I'm trying to see things from the other perspective in every situation. I even discovered that the song "I'm in love with a man nearly twice my age" goes from sweet love story to creepy-uncle in no time flat when it is seen from the perspective of "I'm in love with a girl nearly half my age".
Drivers, try this. Passengers, you too. Try to let your mind see your driver as a human being, waking up to head off to his job, thermos in hand, things on his mind, a routine day ahead of him.
How many times do we drive around, walk around, sit around without actually connecting to each other? Do we ever really think about how we can make people's lives better through simple actions? I think the most simple of actions can change your world.
We're all human beings after all.