It became official this week; I am an Essential worker and my job as a Bus Driver is essential. This contradicts how I feel about driving a bus as I don’t feel essential. If my bus wasn’t there, passengers would find another way to get to work or another bus. If I wasn’t driving there would be another driver to drive the bus. Whilst what I offer may be essential, it doesn’t make me feel essential. What feels essential is the work that I do with my Be Active Tribe (our on-line training group) and my Tai Chi ladies (also currently on-line). For almost two decades being a P.T. has filled up my heart and been my passion. After my online Be Active Tribe training and Tai Chi sessions I feel like I have made a difference, created impact and a positive change. I feel like I have been essential.
Yesterday was one of those rare moments when I realised that I am creating an impact and I can create a positive change as a Bus Driver. Perhaps it is this strange world we live in and even though it is small, I can have an impact on someone’s day. I have a young, female passenger. (Young in my eyes! Maybe early 20’s!) She has this jaunty walk, as if she is on springs, like she has all this energy inside her that is ready to burst at any moment. She is almost dancing. I can imagine her kicking her heels to the side as she walks along. (This reminds me of you Joanne Link!) She is a little shorter than me and it is hard to tell what her body is like as she wears a big puffer jacket, baggy pants and a beanie pulled down over her short dark hair. Her hair spikes out from under her beanie – as if it is also packed full of vibe and energy. Before she wore a mask, I could see her beautiful coffee coloured skin and lips that were quick to smile. Now I see eyes that dance when she smiles, which she did every time she got on the Bus. She has an accent that I just can’t recognise. I get the feeling she would be a fun, somewhat mischievous person to hang out with. Our passenger/driver relationship was sealed about a month ago. I had left the Bus Stop and was about 20 metres away, when she came running down the footpath towards me. I pulled over and opened the door – which I am not actually allowed to do. I made a quick decision and given she was one of my regular passengers and is pretty much on the bus 4 to 5 days a week, I figured she would be late for work if I kept driving, so of course I pulled over.
From the first time she hopped on my bus she would always give me a bright and cheerful “Good Morning!”. She pretty much leaps off the bus using the rear door and always calls out something – “See you tomorrow” or “Have a great day” or “Thank you” AND gives me a wave. Without fail she makes me smile. Yesterday she was the only passenger to hop on at 6am. As I pulled into her regular Bus Stop, I pulled up and opened the back door. As I looked in the mirror, she was almost beside me, so I opened the front door. She stood beside me and was kind of shy when she said, “Today is my last day at this job and I won’t be on this bus anymore.” My heart dropped and I said that I was sorry to hear that. She said I just wanted to say goodbye to you and thank you. I said I will miss you. She looked at me and said, “You will?” I said of course I will. You are one of my favourite passengers. She looked at me with her dancing eyes and said “Really?”. I said of course you are. She said that is so nice, thank you. She jumped off the bus and turned around and said to me “Take care, stay safe” and gave me a big wave. I was choked when I said to her “You take care and stay safe”. As I closed the door, I watched her walk away in her bouncy, energetic way and realised that she had been an essential part of my day, and I had been an essential part of hers. That is the thing about being essential – it is about give and take.
For all those essential workers out there, that may not feel essential, think about what you are doing and remember what you are doing and why.
For all those out there who are interacting with essential workers please remember that they are feeling the same way you are. A kind word and a smile will go a long way.