Tonight I got on a bus. A nightbus. Missed the last tube and could’t afford a taxi. We’ve all been there.
A few stops later, a man, who had quite clearly had more than enough, got on. He attempted conversation with the girl a few seats away from me to no avail. He moved on to someone else and I overheard him ask, “Wake me up at Wanstead…no Leytonstone?” She entertained him for a while, quickly growing restless. He retired to another seat trying multiple times to get comfortable. He finally laid sideways, resting his head on his laptop bag. The girl he had spoken with filmed his drunken search for comfort, whilst laughing with her friends.
As his bag slowly slipped from underneath his head towards the floor, the woman next to me lurched forward and grabbed it, handed it back and sat down next to him. He reached his arm around, nestling her in to his shoulder, which she graciously accepted and fell asleep. The ridiculing onlookers bemused. Arriving at Stratford the spectators alighted, as did the woman he had fallen asleep on, but before leaving she gently woke him. He kissed her on the cheek, which she kindly returned and went on her way.
He continued his search for comfort, trying various positions before once again resting on his bag, but this time finding balance. Approaching Leytonstone I woke him to ask where he was getting off, he gestured to the man in front who clearly ignored him. We both got off the bus and I asked him where he needed to go, as the thought of him lying in the gutter at sunrise disturbed me, he shrugged “I’m fine”, though as I walked up the road he shouted, “But thanks for asking mate.”
Making my way home I reflected on what I had witnessed. I noticed a guy in the distance dressed in a hoodie, displaying a menacing gait, and at this time of night all manner of things flashed through my mind. However, as the man approached he sprightly chirped, “Morning!”
Human kindness is alive and well…and sometimes you don’t even need to look for it.