A few years ago I was an employee of an international company that sold computer devices. I had to travel a lot as part of my work. I remember that I was at a stage of my life where I only cared about how to make more money and how to solve technical problems. I was locked in my own world living as a robot that only worked in a mechanical way.
On one of my work trips, I came to the airport to take a bus to downtown, as usual. It was the same routine: get into the city, take the bus to the hotel, check in, visit the client, work late, take the bus back to the airport and fly back out... That day, for some reason, something was different. I decided not to take the same exit in the airport and took the stairs down to a different exit and walked out. At this exit there was a beautiful landscaped space that I had never seen before. The bus came along and I let it go past because I wanted a few more minutes to enjoy the landscape. Finally the next bus came along and I got on that one.
Before that day I always took the seat behind the driver. That day I sat down somewhere in the middle. A boy was seated next to me. He was carrying a lot of suitcases and bags as if he was moving. While I was watching how he was accommodating all his stuff, (which was a lot!), I was thinking to myself, how annoyed he must be at having to manage so much stuff. Just then, he just turned to me and gave me one of the most authentic smiles I had ever seen from a stranger, he extended his hand and shook mine strongly and said "hi".
As the bus started to drive off, I was hoping to myself that he wasn't going to be the kind of 'annoying' guy who would just start talking to the strangers next to them. Before I had even finished that thought, he said:
"The perfect day in the perfect place, huh?”
I remember thinking to myself - this must be one of those typical people who is young and naive and just thinks everything is beautiful and easy. Why he was annoying me when I just wanted to enjoy the bus ride?
"Perfect day!? Did your parents pay for you to have some vacations on the beach?” I snapped at him sarcastically.
He looked at me in a strange way because of my rudeness. I immediately felt bad and apologized. Then I was the one who tried to lead the conversation. I asked him his name, where he was going and what he was doing. The story that followed changed my whole perspective on life. Everything is different for me now because of this young boy on the bus.
“You can call me John. I’m 20 years old and I’m here because I want to achieve my biggest dream ever.” He replied calmy.
“No, I’m not here for vacation, and I do not have parents," he continued softly. I was shocked and embarrassed by my earlier behaviour.
“I’m sorry,” I said, and let him continue with his story.
“I lost my dad 10 years ago then my mom got married again and my stepfather was a bad person. He treated us in an awful way and my mum turned a blind eye. One day in August, my stepfather hit me for a long time and threw me out of the house. I was just 10 years old.” I could not believe this. A few minutes earlier I was trying to avoid him and now, I just wanted to hear more about his story.
”Since then, I’ve been living all over the country for the last 10 years. I’ve lived on the street, I’ve eaten from the garbage and also I’ve known many other people who have been wonderful and kind to me. I have been lucky. And I have learned a lot from life through these years.” He said simply.
At that point I couldn’t say a word. I felt the tears rising. Fortunately he continued talking..
“My grandpa was a general of the army. He left me this,” he said proudly.
He showed me a kind of long knife with a gold handle. He said this was his his best memory of his childhood. He said that the knife was priceless to him because every time he was faced with something difficult in his life, he would touch the knife and feel better and know that no matter what, he could surpass anything.
“So what are you doing here?” I asked, very curious by now.
He smiled and told me that for 10 years, all the time, every moment of every day, he had only one thing on his mind, to join the army like his grandpa.
“I have come here to achieve the dream of my life, I'm on my way to the army school where my grandfather studied a long time ago and the only thing I know is that I will persist until I succeed. I will follow my dream and every day of my life I will be happy.”
At this point, I could not hold back the tears. The bus had reached his stop, he stood up, took all his bags, extended his hand again to shake mine and with a big smile on his face told me, “it has been a pleasure, I hope to see you again”. I shook his hands tightly, unable to say much at this point. I was choked up with emotion.
This was such an important moment in my life. I would never have imagined that that a young homeless man of 20 years could change my entire life during one short bus ride.It was an earth shattering moment when I understood what a great person he was. To have unwavering faith all this time. And what a smile! Until today, I still don’t know if he was a kind of angel. His teachings are still with me and I always try to do everything with my best smile on my face.
Today's Tip: Wave, say Hi, and thank those service personnel that put their very lives on the line each and every day so that we can maintain the freedoms we have today!