Just a Bus Driver…

3.15.12

What would you say If I told you that I won’t be by today?
Would you say that I’m just a bus driver?
And what do I know
Just a bus driver, and what do I know?
Just a bus driver, and what do I know?
Just a bus driver
Well don’t believe that
We’re all just bus drivers
And it’s time to go home…

I didn’t think anything of it when we had a different bus driver on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. I thought that John was sick, no big deal, he’d be back soon with his friendly “good mornings” and “good nights.” But today I found out that John died of a heart attack.

John was an African American man, in his sixties, with a cheerful African accent. I’ve only been riding the employee shuttle to work since November, when I could no longer bike to work because of evening darkness, but I’ve been riding it since, even now that daylight savings has begun.

John would greet each person who walked aboard that bus. He’d make conversation with us. He’d smile at us and wish us a good day as we left the shuttle to begin our daily 9-5. At 5:15, we’d see him again. He’d announce each street name with a thick African accent. “Cheee-staar” (Chester). “Anyone need Cheee-staar tonight?” It was hard to think about your long day when you heard such an enlivening accent.

After Chester came what began to be known as the “almost there” stop. Some people park in between Chester and the next stop, and if there was a red light, he’d let whoever would like to leave hop off the bus before the next stop. He’d always say funny things like, “anyone want the almost-there today?” or “Today, for you—it’s free.” We’d then turn the corner, I’d hop off and say “Goodnight, John,” to which he’d respond, “goodnight honey.”

One of the ladies who rides the shuttle told me once that she came on the bus with a couple of packages. He made some joke about the packages not being allowed to be brought on board because of policies (which may have had some half-truth to it), “but today, you can come on with them for free!” [The shuttle is always free.]

John seemed like a very simple guy. He didn’t complain. He smiled. He was content with the life God gave him. I wonder how many times my attitude has not been like John’s; peaceful, calm, and friendly.

I need to cry a little bit. I’m going to miss John. It is very hard to accept that life is unpredictable; that one day your bus driver is there and the next day there is someone else… permanently. It makes me sad and challenges me once again to live every day with abundant life, not dwelling on the paltry things of life; to celebrate this life we’ve been given because we have no business in taking it for granted or for complaining about our trivial “problems.”

I will miss you John.

But here’s a little song for you that reminds me of you.

I hope you realize that this song is all about how important each person is in the world. You were important in mine.

Thank you.

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