A few weeks before releasing this article, I traveled from New Jersey to North Carolina on a business trip. On the way home, I came shockingly close to being stranded 7 hours from home. And 3 hours away from the place where I had been staying.
During a rest stop at a convenience store, I had to go to the bathroom. Greyhound buses don’t have sinks, and the bathrooms are not only dirty, but small, so I chose to use the facilities in the store. When I left, the bus was gone!
I was in so much shock that my mind barely registered just how screwed I was. Instead, I went into denial. I slowly walked around the parking lot, convinced that the driver simply parked somewhere else to be out of the way of other vehicles. I wouldn’t entertain the fact that my luggage was still on the bus, as well as my jacket, my food, and even my phone charger. Also, this was about 6:50pm on a Sunday, in a town I’ve never been to, near a freeway, about 7 hours from home and 3 hours from where I came from.
Next thing I knew, a man who had been parked in front of the store when we first got there started calling out to me. He asked, “Weren’t you on the bus?” I said yes. Of course, he replied with a reality check: “You just got left!”
We go into the store and I explain to the clerk what had happened. The clerk, using the ticket that I thankfully had in my pocket, made a phone call and managed to get a hold of the driver. The driver agreed to stop so that the guy who saw me could drive me to the bus.
Then we get into his car — with his wife — and speed down the freeway. About 5 minutes later, we catch up to the bus. It was on the side of the road with its lights flashing. A handshake and a few thank you’s later, and I was back on the Greyhound.
The crazy thing is, all of this happened so fast that I didn’t have time to panic. I felt surprisingly optimistic through it all. One minute, I’m having this stupid delusion that the bus moved somewhere else. The next minute, a witness is offering to help. Next minute, that complete stranger is driving me to the bus. The entire situation must have taken 15 to 20 minutes.
There were a couple of powerful lessons I learned from this. I’ll give an honorable mention to this one: never use the rest stop bathroom unless you’re getting off as soon as the bus stops!
Patience > Panic
In hindsight, my rationalization of the problem was ridiculous. However, that logic saved me from having a panic attack. I’m just curious, how many things have we gotten through panicking that we couldn’t have gotten with patience? If I would have gotten on my knees and yelled “noooo!” to the Heavens, would the bus have turned around to pick me up? If I would have ran into the store, crying or cursing my case to the cashier, would he have helped me any faster?
If anything, losing my calm would have delayed the solution. It would only have put even more stress on me and made it more difficult to think of a solution. I may not have been able to control the bus, but I could control how I felt at that moment.
So for future reference, do whatever you can to remain calm. A calm mind can solve problems faster than a panicked mind. A panicked mind can cause more problems and delay solutions.
Have More Faith in Humanity
It’s easy to have little to no faith in people when we watch the news, deal with the negative people in our lives, grow up in rough neighborhoods, read YouTube and social media comments, etc. I certainly have a challenge with focusing on the good in society. However, it’s important to be aware that there are good people out there. Even complete strangers can be supportive and kind to us.
It was a complete stranger who saw me miss the bus. He could have easily said “sucks to be you,” and kept on talking to his wife. Yet this guy took about 10 minutes of his time to see what he could do to help me, then fly down the freeway to help out someone he may never see again. God knows what would have happened if he wasn’t there.
I never even had to ask!
Another thanks goes to the cashier. It didn’t occur to me that I could call for the bus to stop; that was his idea. Again, a complete stranger took a few minutes of his time — during his job — to help me out. Someone he might never see again.
Faith in humanity restored!
Make a nice day!