Common Courtesy: Pay It Forward

Anthony Thames
Spare Change News

Recently, while I was commuting home via the No. 222 bus to Weymouth, a mother boarded with an infant child in a stroller. The bus was fairly crowded, as is normally the case on a late Tuesday afternoon. There were no open seats in the front of the bus, and it became obvious that no one was about to offer this young mother a seat for herself and her child.

As passengers continued to board the bus, there was mass confusion, and the mother seemed to become increasingly uncomfortable. I waited several agonizing minutes before I ultimately decided to get up and make my way to the front of the bus. There was a man who was sitting in the seats normally reserved for the elderly or disabled. I said, “Excuse me, I have a seat in the back that you can have if you’ll allow this mother to have this area for herself and her child.” The young man immediately got up and moved to the back of the bus, where he found another seat for himself.

I then lifted the now-empty seats, creating an area for the mother to move herself and the baby carriage. This ultimately created a clear path on the bus for passengers to move freely through the center aisle. The mother, now seated, seemed extremely relieved. Other passengers appeared a bit more comfortable and relaxed. One might think that maybe I went to extreme lengths to help this mother; I will admit that sometimes I don’t like to be the center of attention. I feel, however, that sometimes you have to overcome any uncomfortable feelings you might have and just do the right thing. I felt more discomfort sitting and struggling with whether or not to do what I knew was right.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity through Spare Change to express my experiences, strengths, and hopes for a better world. I chose to share this story because I feel that far too many of us know that we should do the right thing, yet for whatever reasons, we are reluctant to act. There are definitely those among us who do not know any better, and I feel that for those of us who do, acting on our impulses to do good can be an opportunity for us to teach. Far too often I experience feelings of dismay due to the lack of common courtesy displayed in our society today. It seems that too many people go about their daily lives without much care or concern for their fellow man.

Recently, the MBTA unveiled a campaign for riders to show more courtesy and kindness toward fellow riders. In addition, I feel the T would do well in teaching its employees a thing or two about courtesy and kindness. I am appalled at the way some MBTA personnel treat their patrons.

I myself have been treated with more disrespect by T employees than one could imagine. Limited space will not permit me to list the numerous incidences where I have been humiliated or treated with outright contempt. This behavior is unacceptable, and I immediately report incidences of disrespect or a lack of common courtesy by T personnel. I encourage anyone who might have experienced similar behavior to report incidences of abuse by T employees.

I encourage riders of the T and people in general to strive to do the right thing. Give up a seat or maybe hold a door for someone. Sometimes a simple smile can begin to peel away the layers of pain that a person may be experiencing in their life. Show your gratitude by lending a hand to another who appears to be struggling. On my travels, I recently read a sign that stated: “Service is a form of rent that human beings pay for living on earth.”

ANTHONY THAMES is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

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