I won’t mention the many issues I take with this awful coworker of mine. I’ll merely point out his obliviousness of how to skip-stop, the better to illustrate what happened: I was southbound at Rainier and Holden, nearing the end of the 7 route, and he was right behind me. When two buses of the same route have the same destination and have caught up with each other, the first bus should skip the stops it can, so the second bus can share some of the load. This speeds up both buses. A passenger was waiting at the Holden stop, but I barreled past, gesturing at the second bus behind me.

Except he didn’t stop. 

Fifteen-odd minutes later, I recognized that passenger again as he came running toward my bus, now parked at the Henderson terminal. I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. Was he angry? I bet he was. He had to be. I stepped toward him, opening the doors and trying to quickly prepare how best to explain skip-stopping and that I had trusted the bus behind me to follow the rules and pick him up.

He was a dark-skinned middle-aged man dressed in white, a crisp and massive spotless sweatshirt and matching beret. From behind wire-frame spectacles he listened as I did my best, gesturing about the bus behind me and apologizing that that guy didn’t do as I’d hoped.

He wasn’t mad. “Yeah, I know,” he said. I breathed a sigh of relief.

He explained he was holding a Lost and Found item, one he had come upon and believed belonged to a passenger from my bus. He was attempting to return it and thought I should have it because it looked important. He had boarded a third bus a few minutes later, ran up to my follower at the terminal and gotten chewed out by him, and subsequently ran up to my bus, just before I was to leave.

I apologized to him, telling him he was a good man, offering my hand to shake. He took it. “I thought you just wanted to get down the street,” I said. “Thank you so much for comin’ over here, goin’ outta your way like that. I didn’t know.” I took the item, a folder with documents. They did look important. “Man, somebody is gonna love you!”

He chuckled and strolled off. I spent my next trip newly energized by him, a man who’d taken at least thirty minutes of his own time to help someone he’d never meet, for no reward, and who didn’t give up when strife was thrown in his face along the journey. His gentle gait as he ambled toward the setting sun spoke his worldview as plainly as anything else: 

It feels good to do the right thing.

Article Author

Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.