Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Bus Stops and Samaritans

On days when Sundy has early work, I have two choices: have a rushed morning, leaving with her at 6:15 to catch a ride to the bus stop, or enjoy a more leisurely morning, with time to read and exercise, leaving an hour later to walk to the stop. Recently, I have been habitually choosing the latter option, opting for a few more moments in a warm bed to compensate for the brisk 0.8 mile walk to the bus stop.

Generally I enjoy the walk, as it provides me an excuse to exercise less later in the day and gives me a time to clear my head before starting school. However, the bus schedule has the unfortunate disadvantage of not lining up with my school schedule. One bus gets me to class about 30 minutes early; the second, because of rush hour traffic, usually causes me to arrive 5-10 minutes late. I usually shoot for the first bus, but often I end up rushing because I don't allow myself enough time.

That happened to me last week, when I was running late and speedwalking to catch the bus on time. As I passed an apartment complex, I noticed a familiar-looking woman walking out towards me. I recognized her as a woman who had attended church a few times two months ago, but soon stopped coming and answering her phone. I tried to catch her eye to say hello as I sped on past, but she never looked my way. I thought that I should stop and talk to her, but I was worried about missing the bus. I debated for a few seconds before my introverted, time-conscious side won and I hurried by. Three minutes later, after she had caught a different bus, I saw my bus drive through the intersection where I was to catch. I missed the bus anyway.

The next day, I was running late again, though not as much so. I hoped to see the woman come out again, resolved that this time I would talk to her whether I missed the bus or not. But she wasn't there. As I continued on by, disappointed that the day was not one of redemption for my previous oversight, I saw the bus approaching and started running to the intersection to catch it. Just as I rounded the corner, the bus pulled away, leaving me behind a second day in a row.

I resigned myself to being late, and started pulling out my notes so I could study as I waited. Just then, an old red SUV stopped in front of me and the window rolled down. "I saw you running," a West-Indian inflected voice said. "Can I give you a ride to catch the bus?"

I gratefully took the man up on his offer and jumped in. He quickly passed the bus and dropped me off a few blocks ahead.

As I rode the bus to school that morning, I pondered the two days' experience, comparing my and the driver's attitudes. The hurried Levite did not compare well to the helpful Samaritan. Next time I will stop; getting to class on time, however important the material, does not justify passing by the "fall[en,] . . . stripped, . . . [and] wounded."

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