I’m not entirely sure if I should smile or cry that this happened to me several days ago.
I want to smile because caring, gracious people are still all around us. I want to cry because I feel I may have offended the same gracious people.
What happened? I boarded the bus for home, carrying a tote and a small paper bag. As I passed the driver’s cabin after paying the fare, a young lady half stood and gestured to her seat. “You sit,” she said.
I thanked her politely and smiled widely, but declined. I had only three stops to go and was perfectly fine with standing.
As I made my way towards the rear of the bus, two students jumped up and chorused, “Auntie, you sit down!” Again, I thanked them and declined, assuring them I was fine.
But here’s my dilemma: should I accept such offers? I feel I should have because the rejection might send unintended messages to those of us raised to be gracious. Have I “taught” the students, for instance, not to offer their seats next time?
But why would I sit when my journey is short? And your day might have been more tiring so you deserve the seat even more.
The only thing I’m certain of is my gratitude that gracious kindness still exists.
What do you think? What would you have done?
By the way, I’m not yet a senior citizen and I don’t look elderly. I think.
My recent travels opened my eyes to a great deal of beauty, both natural and manmade over centuries past.
But beauty was also right there in the acts of kindness, courtesy and graciousness I witnessed every day.
Such as the cheery “Good morning” and warm “Have a good day”.
Such as the door patiently held open and the simple “After you”.
Such as the orderly queuing and waiting for a turn in crowded loos, fitting rooms, and packed food courts.
Such as the lady who reached the front of a London store fitting room queue after 20 minutes, and told the sales clerk to let a pregnant young woman right at the back take her place, and that she was prepared to trade places.
Or the elderly man in Bath who was ushered into a coffee shop and given a cool drink to escape the 31-degree heat.
Or the endless rows of dog dishes of fresh water in Looe, regularly replenished by shopkeepers, so our canine friends would be happier trotting about in the heat.
Or the Cardiff Castle guides who stayed on to tell their stories past the closing hour.
Or the men and women who offered food and drink to the homeless and hapless in the sudden evening chill.
Or this little lad who toddled forward to drop some money. Then proceeded to join in the performance – his way. The singer was delightful and talented, and won more hearts by singing with him.