Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Always say Thank You
I was thinking of the importance of saying “Thank You.” When boarding Line 14 the other morning as I swiped my card, without thinking, I told the driver “thank you.”
He very unpretentiously said, “you’re welcomed.” Then I thought I wonder how many people board the bus and tell the driver thank you as they get on. Many say thank you when they get off, which is a very nice gesture I feel. I see having the opportunity for transportation as a privilege, so a thank you would be fitting. Not sure what the driver thought I was thanking him for.
What brought this on was I was wanting to say “thank you” to someone who has been kind and contributed to my life the last several months.
Last week, I was getting on Line 2 after going to the grocery and walking back to a bus stop at an obscure place. ( I like to use them sometimes... keeps the drivers on their toes you know.)
As I boarded and I swiped my card I heard someone say, “It didn’t talk to you that time.”
I looked up. There was the director of transit on the bus smiling at me. Not often do you get to see the director of the whole bus operation on the bus as your personal hostess for the bus ride. Her comment took me back several months to a bus incident I had.
The bus system had just added a swipe system on the bus so you when you get a pass it has a magnetic stripe on it so you can swipe it. The new swipe machines were having some bad-hair days at first, and one Saturday after using the bus several times that day, the swipe system was not at its best behavior. It would say, “Card is not valid” in a female, monotone voice when it didn’t recognize the code on it.
Since my card came up “invalid” several times in one day, that night I felt it was time to share this with Transit. On their website comment page, I told them about my frustration with the swipe system not working right. I was being insulted by being told “I was invalid.” (I may not have been in one of my best self worth days as I was taking this rather personally.) To my surprise Monday I got an email from the director of transit thanking me for sharing the problem I was having with the swipe machine. It was a new system and they were still working out some of the bugs. She said she would send this information on to the appropriate people. It was a very nice, considerate email and she considered my comments as “valid.” It really impressed me on the prompt nature of the response and the thoughtfulness in it.
Feeling a little embarrassed myself for making snide remarks about a machine insinuating I was invalid as a person, I felt I should share some positive things of which there were several. So I communicated a couple of the good experiences I was having through an email. Again, a very nice email came back thanking me for sharing what I did and she said she would pass it on to the ones involved. I was feeling a little better about myself for doing that and feeling more “valid” as a person.
Over the next several months, that initial communication opened up other communications and observations I had on the bus system. Without exception, a very nice positive email came back. Not sure where she learned this art, but they were constantly uplifting and encouraging to me as well. So I decided to start this blog and tell stories of my bus experiences. Again, positive, reassuring feedback would come via email after I posted each thought. It really just egged me on.
Just recently I posted a story on Mike, a bus rider putting his life back together (October 1, 2012 post) It was about how brief comments can make a big difference in someone’s life. The transit director may not had known this but she was making a huge difference in my life. Just by the mere fact she would extend appreciation for effort and add encouragement within her response. As I was to Mike, she was to me. It was a time in my life when I needed something a little extra.
The comment she shared that day, “it (the machine) didn’t talk to you that time” includes so much more. She always talked to me, shared, explained and then encouraged... naturally gifted at inspiring. As someone who uses words to express myself, I can’t find the right words to express my feelings of what she did for me over the summer. Like Mike, I am putting some things back together in my life. The bus was a place it began formulating and re-surging in my mind and spirit again.
I asked her for a meeting once and she granted it. One question I had was what she hoped for in the bus system in the future. After 38 years with the transit system she was retiring. In a reflective, heartfelt voice, she said she hoped the community programs to help those who need transportation, but can’t afford it, would continue. The bus is the only outlet some have to get around. It was evident she was very passionate on this, and compassionate to the less fortunate. Her voice, facial expression and eyes showed the respect she had for people, and some just need a little help.
In that light, I may be one of those. She always showed respect and honored my communications, not knowing who I was or wasn’t. That didn’t matter to her. What mattered was... I was a human being and a bus customer.
Running into her, within the last 10 days of her retiring from her position as transit director, I wanted to share personally these thoughts with her. I didn’t then, but now I want everyone to know what they were. She deserves it. If she had this impact on me, I can’t imagine the impact she has had on many over the years. She stands as a symbol of what our relationships with people should be... on the job, on the street, in the home.
From the first email as she responded to my comment through the website, to the emails that followed and then responding to this blog, she is contagiously courteous, respectful and above all a re-encourager, an inspire-er, a motivator. Her competent caring spirit stands out as a rare remarkable quality.
“You make my bus experience the delight of my day!” Thank You … Carol Cruise.
And thanks for the time “you” took to talk to me.