Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bus-Driving Buddha

Today I fell in love again. I took a city bus home from downtown and the driver, who bore a startling resemblance to Lou Rawls, smiled and said, "How are YOU today?" as I walked up the steps. He had the kind of smile that would have made him millions in Hollywood. I noticed that he greeted everyone and had something pleasant to say to each passenger as they boarded.

Most people responded in kind. A few ignored him or even scowled that he had the nerve to interrupt their bad humor.

He answered endless questions for tourists as if his life depended on it.

I told him, "You're amazing. You welcome everyone to your bus and try to brighten their day. I don't know how you do it."

He replied, "There are assholes on every bus. I don't want to be one of them."

I touched his arm lightly. "If everyone was more like you, this would be a better world," I said as I got ready to exit.

"Thank you," he said.

"Thank YOU."

We smiled and wished each other a wonderful evening, weekend, and rest of our lives. When I got off, he honked and waved at me. He was smiling from ear to ear.

I think I met the spirit of God today. I was worrying about things I can't control, but this man's glowing warmth and concern for others made me realize that sometimes the kindness of strangers can absolutely be depended upon.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a wonderful encounter with an enlightened being. I am going to remember this one.

Nick said...

Unfortunately it's always a surprise to meet spontaneously warm-hearted souls like that, there are all too few of them. Yes, maybe he's a reincarnation of the great Buddha?

the walking man said...

If all could just smile at strangers it would be a wonderful improvement.

I like your bus driver and his "There are assholes on every bus, I don't want to be one of them."

He's not like the MI school bus driver who was 3x's over the legal limit for alcohol as he operated his rig. A true ASSHOLE on a bus.

One thing though Hearts, if it does no good to worry, and even might be counterproductive, about things you have no control over why do it? Better you spend the time trying to deduce results and plan for the outcome eh?


Odat said...

I love when stuff like that happens! Smiles are contagious.....It's all so simple.

WNG said...

Sometimes when the universe presents us with what we need we're able to realize it immediately. Those are good moments. I'm glad you had one and that you appreciated it.
I'll be taking that quote with me:
"There are assholes on every bus, I don't want to be one of them."

ps - the official drink of Memorial Day Weekend in the Universe of G is Vodka (in case you were wondering).

The CEO said...

Clearly one of the most memorable posts you will ever write because of its very nature. Thank you for that. This makes you The Teacher, and that is an exalted position, and it is well deserved. I hope you and Flip have a fabulous weekend.

furiousBall said...

it's awesome to find those in this life that get it. good for you to recognize it, which tells me you do too.

thailandchani said...

Love this post! Absolutely love it! Call me naive, but I do believe there are so many people like this in the world. We just have to be open to seeing them.

"Bus-driving Buddha" is not far from the truth.


Or as some say "angels among us".

seventh sister said...

What a wonderful experience.

meno said...

It's the simple things.

Something to remember as i go through my day.

Molly said...

It is nice when we all try to make life more bearable for each other. God bless that bus driver!

jameil1922 said...

how warm and fuzzy. sending a mental hug to lou's doppelganger.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I believe he WAS an enlightened being. I saw him lift people's spirits as he did mine with his wonderful smile while his eyes looked deeply into everyone, perhaps seeking his echo.


We all have the capability to be buddhas, but few realize it.

He was a most lovely man.


Thank you for your excellent advice. Better to plan than to worry. I am going to try to internalize that.


Smiles are contagious, like yawns. We should have a Smile at Strangers Day and see what happens.


Vodka? Since when is Memorial Day a Russian holiday? I think you mean Cossack's Day, but just don't be drivin' no school buses behind it.


Well, this crowd doesn't need teaching, but thank you so much anyway.

And a wonderful weekend to you and your family, too.


I do recognize it -- I can't always BE it, though. But then, we're not done here.


It really felt like an angel encounter. The man had an aura of lovingkindness about him which affected nearly everyone.


To paraphrase Bogart, Out of all the buses in the world, I had to walk into his.


Maybe the "simple things" are really the most complex.


I'm sure he is blessed to be a rare and wonderful human being.


I think I felt that hug.

Part of me wants to ride the same bus to see him again, while part of me wonders if he really exists every day.

It's kind of sad when someone like him seems to be from another dimension.

On a limb with Claudia said...

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful encounter! I've met a few of those folks in my life - amazing people who take the word "service" to heart.

Franki said...

I love this. I wish it were the norm instead of the stand-out. Happy Memorial Day weekend Susan.

Pam said...

I love this too. Thanks for sharing that story.

velvet said...

Oh, that's awesome!

What a great encounter. I can see how you could be touched and now, through you, his goodness can be spread far and wide. Thanks for sharing that. :)

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Encountering someone like that bus driver can bring sunshine into a blah day!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If only everyone realized that we are ALL in service - to one another.


Happy Every Day to you!


I'm so glad. Thank you for your visit.


I think that kind of good energy is meant to be shared.

St. Nick,

Exactly. I told him that he brightened everyone's day - because it was true.

Anonymous said...

I love "I met the spirit of God today." We expect and hope for the telltale happenings -- fireworks and big signs and obvious signs. But perhaps it will never be so. Perhaps we need to stop looking and just start receiving the idea that maybe God is in all of us -- in the gentleness of a smile, the gentle touch on an arm.

I would venture to say that perhaps Lou Rawls might think that he met the spirit of God today too, in you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


The Quakers believe that there is "a little bit of God in every man." (And woman, of course.)

Some people challenge that concept more than others.

Anonymous said...

And I am grooving on the idea that that bus driver WAS Lou Rawls. Why not? I haven't seen him lately so it is possible isn't? Not likely but possible?

blooming desertpea said...

It takes so little, so little to make one's day, isn't? - but why aren't we all doing it then, eh?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You haven't seen Lou Rawls lately because he died in 2006. I assume you know that he was from Chicago..?

Still, he was an amazing talent and an extraordinary man, so it's possible he returned briefly just to spread a little more joy, and that he chose to do it on a San Francisco bus.


Yes, it does take so little. It makes you wonder why we can't do that for one another more often.

Artful Kisser said...

Wonderful. A smile a day keeps the doctor away.

Ian Lidster said...

It's such a treasure to come across such a person. Gives a body hope.

Maria said...

I have this theory about angels on earth and he sounds like one of them....

Angela said...

What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it. The song lyrics playing just sang "Love will find a way." That coupled with this post gives me goosebumps. Thank you for them. Goosebumps like these rock. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Yes, I did know that and now, that you mention it, I do remember that he did pass away. Ah heck, minor details . . .

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So true. So very true.

Thank you for your visit.


Sometimes hope is all we have, and it has to be enough.


I'm sure he was one. I could almost see his wings.


Here's to rocking goosebumps!


Besides, the truly great never die. They just transmute.

katrice said...

What a wonderful way to spend a bus ride! This is how it's supposed to be.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


He was a truly lovely man with a most loving and lovable spirit.

Jocelyn said...

I have occasionally had these encounters with rare and special people, too. And it's important and wonderful to carefully acknowledge how special they are. Well done.

meggie said...

This truly brought tears of joy to my eyes. xx

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Such people serve as a beacon, a lighthouse for the spiritually blind, and most of all an example of all we may become.

They are not often in so-called elevated professions but down in the trenches of everyday life, holding up their corner of the world with pride and humility.


I'm glad this man's kindness reached you, too.

Mariposa said...

OMG. That's an amzing ride...encounter. Reading this post is quite timely, kindness to people especially from a stranger do mean a lot. Now, more than looking forward to meeting strangers who are like him, I resolve to be like him.

Thank you for being a reminder that there are still people who are grateful with little things...very inspiring Hearts!

Anonymous said...

You and "Lou" and have lifted me higher. Thank you for this.

(Sometimes, less is more. This is one of those times. I am stunned silent and on a cloud of smiles.)


heartinsanfrancisco said...


We all have the power to do that for one another, and I believe it is the reason we are here.

I resolve to be like him, too.


A cloud of smiles is a lovely image. Thank you for making me smile, too.

RED MOJO said...

I had an airport shuttle bus driver like that once. Maybe they're related. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Mr. Rawls gets around.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

There are angels around us, incognito, and when we least expect it, they show up and light our hearts with love.

So very glad that you got to meet one.

Scarlett & V.

Awareness said...

wonderful reminds me of that song....

what if God was one of us?
just a stranger on a bus
trying to make his way home......

lovely story....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've met a few in my life, and he was definitely one of them.


That song is perfect! I didn't know it and had to look it up, so thank you.

And welcome. It's so nice to have you here.