A single, teenage father, a crying baby, and no one helped
I recently took part in a 10-day, short-form writing challenge. One of the writing prompts was to “… tell us about a day you knew you did the right thing.” That was one of the prompts that I struggled with. I had no idea where to start. I had been “doing the right thing” since I was a kid. It’s just a part of who I am as a person. Once I started writing I had to not only stop myself but I had to chop it back to under 150 words. Not an easy task after so many years of being in service to others, and I’m not even talking about my jobs.
Then this morning I saw this.
It’s called being humble. People who do the right thing for the right reasons do it because it needs to be done and more often than not, they are the ones standing there while the world holds its collective breath and waits for “someone” never realizing (or too lazy to care) that they are the “someone”.
Between the prompt and Write Mind Matters’ piece, it reminded me of a bus ride from years ago.
I was on a Metro bus headed to the New Carrollton Metro station. It’s a subway just outside of D.C. I was sitting in the first forward-facing seat. I hated riding sideways. I liked being able to see where I was going. This came in handy one day when I was on a different bus route and the driver thought she was having a heart attack. I stood beside her as she struggled to pull the bus into the nearest Metro station, ready to grab the wheel and shove her over in her seat if it came to that.
Who needs Sandra Bullock?
A guy, a kid really, got on the bus. He couldn’t have been 19 if he was a day. In tow were a baby, a stroller, and a diaper bag. He struggled to get himself and his things on the bus and took a seat across from me. The baby wouldn’t stop crying to save his soul. I looked at the driver. I then looked over my left shoulder. There were less than a dozen people on and they were all sitting in the back of the bus. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer.
Would you like me to hold him for you while you get his bottle ready?
The father had been trying to juggle the fussy baby in one arm while the hand of the other arm was digging through the ediaper bag. He had located a bottle but he had not prepared it at home. I don’t know. Maybe he had run out of time. Without saying a word and his face stern he handed me the bundle of joy. No, I didn’t have any better luck at getting the little gem to settle down but at least while I was playing kitchy koo with the kid Dad could focus and use two hands.
Mix and water now in the bottle either he didn’t know or didn’t care but he did pinch the nipple closed before he started shaking it up. Formula was all over the wall of the bus. Once he had it all set I had Screamer back to him. All was right with the world until the bus reached the end of the line.
Now Dad was saddled with trying to do everything in reverse. Looking around to see if anyone was going to step forward, and once the answer was a resounding no, I asked him if he wanted me to hold the babe while he got his belongings together and got off the bus. Again with no word he handed me the kid. I followed him to the front of the bus and waited. He got off and just stood there. I told him to open the stroller and get everything set. He did. Then for the last time, I passed the baby back to him.
Once all was said and done the driver who had witnessed the entire thing go down said to me that it was very nice of me to have helped him out like that. Our eyes met in his review mirror.
I had my hand on his shoulder as I said this and gave it a squeeze and then went on with my day. I don’t know if I’ve ever told this story to anyone before or not.
Knowing me, probably not.
Originally published in The Blade on Dec 17, 2021