A boy gets yelled out by passengers on a bus because he refused to give up his seat for an old lady, but the driver doesn’t let it stand.
In Houston, Texas, it was a cold morning when John Bumble maneuvered his bus into the bus stop to pick up his first batch of passengers.
The 40-year-old was a chubby-faced man with a big heart and a smile for each of his passengers every morning. Normally, people would smile back or acknowledge with a greeting, but that day was unlike any other.
There was a lot of snow that morning, so everyone was in a hurry to get to their various destinations as warm and dry as possible. The bus made that possible for those without cars, and so it was more crowded than usual.
As John peered at his rearview mirror, he noticed how uncomfortable the passengers felt about getting squished together like sardines.
Their bodies were rubbing against each other, and those who did not get a seat wore stern faces as though they blamed those seated for their misfortune.
The bad mood on the bus did not suit John. He unconsciously drove a little faster because he couldn’t wait to get rid of the moody passengers.
It sounded selfish, but in truth, he was just trying to save them from the stress of such an inconvenient ride. He was being magnanimous.
Twenty minutes after he picked up the first crowd, he arrived at his first stop for the day. A couple of people got off at that stop, slightly lessening the number of people on the bus.
John sighed relief at that and quickly moved on to the next stop, also hoping to arrive sooner. But unfortunately, he had been so focused that he almost missed what was happening on his bus.
It was the passengers. “What is wrong with kids these days? How can they be so ill-mannered?” John heard a man say.
The anger in the man’s voice drove John to take his eyes off the road to spare a glance at the rearview mirror; however, he couldn’t identify who had spoken.
There were simply too many people on board, and they all looked displeased, so he couldn’t say for sure who had uttered the angered words.
After a moment, John returned his eyes to the road and chose to play dumb, acting like he didn’t hear the complaint. “It could have been just been a murmur from a disgruntled person,” he thought. “Must be the overcrowding.”
A minute passed, then John heard another voice, but it was female.
“His mother must not have raised him well. He can clearly see that poor lady standing since this journey began, but he’s just acting like he is blind,” she said.
John quickly glanced at the mirror to find out who was talking and spotted a woman who was probably in her late twenties. She stood next to an older woman, and they both had their attention on the window seat.
John had to keep his eye on the road, so he did not immediately see who the women were facing. When he risked a glance at the mirror again, he saw that the younger woman was yelling at ten-year-old Richard, one of his frequent passengers.
The boy took it all quietly, eyes wide as a doe, glancing at all the hostile faces that surrounded him. He thought his silence would calm the storm, but it only seemed to enrage it.
“What’s wrong with you boy? Are you deaf?” the woman said again. “Look how big his eyes have gotten, don’t you know it’s rude to just stare?”
“I agree with you,” a man added. “The fact that these kids lack sympathy for older people appalls me. What a rude boy! You really won’t give up your seat for that fragile woman who has been standing for so long? Imagine it was your mom!”
“That’s the truth!” another man added. “Parents now give their kids too much freedom and don’t have time to teach them morals.”
After that, the older woman spoke. “I feel pity for the young generation. I have no problem with standing here but what pains me is how he seems to hear all we are saying but acts like he doesn’t understand,” she said.
“It’s really unfortunate,” she finished.
“I blame his parents,” the woman who had previously cautioned Richard pointed out. “If he was my kid, he would definitely understand how to act around elders. What a shameless boy!”
As the trip proceeded, the disgruntled passengers went on and on, heaping insults on the poor boy who sat there listening to it all without saying a word. He looked very intimidated.
At some point, John could no longer take the people ridiculing the boy, so he hit the brakes, stopping the vehicle abruptly and causing the passengers to stagger and swing forward.
It temporarily diverted their attention from the boy, but John couldn’t see him release a sigh of relief because he suddenly had to deal with their anger heaped at him.
“What’s the matter with you?” a man shot at him. “You’re driving so recklessly! You want to murder someone?”
“Today just keeps getting better and better!” a woman added. “First, the crowded bus, then the spoiled child, and now the reckless driver.”
“How is this my fault?” John cut in as he powered up the bus again. “Your noise back there has me unable to concentrate on driving. Why are you folks intimidating that kid to take his seat? Perhaps you could be a little more sympathetic to him.”
“You’re defending him for his wrongdoings?” the older woman asked. “People like you are the reason he’s like this in the first place.”
“But, you can’t…” The older woman cut John off before he could end his statement. “Stay focused on the road, that’s all you’re getting paid to do.”
“This is my duty, ma’am,” John answered, gritting his teeth and gripping the wheel tighter.
“I think you should do yours as well,” he continued while he had their attention. “You simply can’t pass judgment on the kid without knowing everything.”
“Everything? What do you mean everything?” the older woman said.
John said nothing, acting like he didn’t hear her question. It infuriated the woman, and she acted on her impulse. “Stop this bus right now!” she yelled. “I order you to stop this bus right now!!! I’ll get off it if this boy isn’t dropped off this instant.”
John said nothing, instead choosing to speed up. A few moments later, he pulled up at the next stop, after which he left his seat to remove a pair of crutches from the passenger bin.
They belonged to the boy, and John smiled as he approached him. He set the crutches by him then motioned to him that he had arrived at his stop in sign language.
Richard smiled back and signed his thanks, then exited the bus with the aid of the crutches. After the boy left, John got back behind the wheel and told them the whole story.
“He is mute and paralyzed from the waist down. His mom raises him by herself and he travels on my bus daily so I know him well.”
As they heard his words, the bus grew as silent as a graveyard. “I’m feeling so terrible. I didn’t know he was mute. Do you know where they live?” she asked John. “I want to make up for all I said.”
“Yes I do, ma’am. In the future, try not to judge someone like you did. I hope others understand this too,” John said.
He gave the woman, who introduced herself as Sarah Fey, a note that contained Richard’s address before she exited the bus, and she promised to reach out to him.
Later that week, Sarah visited the boy and discovered they lived poorly in a shady Houston neighborhood.
It turned out the boy’s mother had fled her abusive husband and could not afford to treat him. He could walk again, but it would require an expensive surgery.
Sarah had once been a medical doctor, so she was able to reach out to her friends who helped Richard get an appointment. She also launched a fundraiser for him online, thereby helping him make more than enough money to take care of the surgery.
Thanks to her influence, the boy was cured, and his mother, Zoe, couldn’t be thankful enough. Apart from getting help for her son, Sarah also arranged for her to be employed as a janitor at her former hospital.
Zoe was unaware of what had transpired between her son and Sarah on the bus. Whenever she asked, the older woman would simply say she met him on a bus and learned about his story from John, which encouraged her to reach out.
In truth, she had felt very guilty for judging the boy and had simply wanted to make up for her actions.