For now, a small aside-
Sometimes passengers will be short on fare and either they or I will say something like, "You can pay me next time," or "Can I get the rest of this later?" or "Let's put it on the tab." It's a polite way of saying, "don't worry about this fare stuff, just come on in and relax. It's cold outside."
However. Rarely are there are times when I am rendered speechless on the job, but when people show up and pay double their fare on my bus, apparently to cover for some other day when they didn't have fare, I am in awe. Yesterday a woman in a wheelchair wheeled herself over to my waiting 358. She had a dollar folded up in her hand. I recognized her- she's the one whose wheelchair makes a beep-beep sound when it reverses, like a garbage truck- and assumed she wanted to ride my bus and had her fare ready. i was excited to see her, but she explained herself-
"I was on your bus last week, but I didn't have the full fare, and you let me slide, and so today I'm bringing you the extra dollar to make up for it..."
I blurted it out without thinking, with a look of complete shock on my face: "You're awesome!"
She said something about wanting to do the right thing, but I interrupted her and told her to come on in.
"Oh no, I'm not riding today. I just came over here to give you the dollar."
"Oh my goodness, you are amazing. This is unbelievable." We still have a few minutes left before I pull out, so I step off the bus and chat with her. She lives a few blocks away, and hauled herself all the way out here just to hand me this folded-up dollar bill. I encouraged her to keep the dollar, but she refused. She wanted to offer some sort of gesture of thanks for how much she enjoys riding all the time. We had a lovely conversation, and we both our separate merry ways, equally gladdened by the goodwill of the other.
I took the dollar. It's like when your Uncle Albert makes that lasagna that's just okay. You take the lasagna, because it's not about the lasagna. Both of you know it isn't the best stuff in the world. It's about the gesture. He's trying to tell you that he cares about you, and when you accept the lasagna, what you're really doing is saying Thank you, I acknowledge that thought and am grateful for it. It was absolutely absurd for me to accept that dollar, but that's why I did.
(The other notes scribbled on the transfer above refer to other small moments from that day- Awesome passenger Westin and I getting carried away on a conversation about UPS, UW, and the positive correlation between taking pictures and feeling happy; me being thrilled to see some people I knew from before (including Jermain, mentioned in numerous rte. 7 posts); a moment on the 346 where a young student I'd never seen before and I smiled at each other as if we'd known each other for years; and a Twilight Zone-like last trip on the 358, where, instead of a hundred passengers, I only had three).