A TTC bus driver voluntarily stayed nearly 3 hours past her shift to make multiple trips to shuttle more than 100 students from HoopDome to Downsview station on a Friday night. If she hadn’t done that, we would have been walking more than 40 minutes to get to the station. She thanked US for being so thankful. If that’s not kindness, then I don’t know what is.
By Taaha Muhammad
This past weekend we hosted the national Muslim Interscholastic Tournament here in Toronto, inviting 15 regions from across the United States for a jam-packed weekend of exciting competitions, workshops, and LOADS of cheering.
Though words are never able to encapsulate how I feel about MIST every year that it happens, there is one particular story I think merits mention, so I tell it below:
On Friday evening at around 6:30 p.m., I was heading over to HoopDome in Toronto, where the basketball tournament was to happen.
On a mysteriously capacious TTC bus, we managed to cram in what I’d estimate to be a hundred students as we went from Downsview station to HoopDome.
The bus driver, intrigued by the mass of students we were shuttling there, inquired about the event.
We told her all about MIST and how it was founded, and about the various regions that were participating.
By the time we got to HoopDome, she brought to our attention that the last TTC bus (at HoopDome) would be coming at 10:10 p.m.
We had no idea about this, and our tournament was likely going to end at 11:15 p.m, at the earliest.
In a heroic act of generosity, she offered to, voluntarily, come at 11:15 p.m. to pick up all the students and shuttle them back to Downsview, after confirming with her boss.
She wasn’t to get paid for this, and she certainly was not obliged to help us out here.
Besides, it was a Friday night. She should have been napping after long and difficult week of work.
At 10:30 p.m., she was waiting there patiently at the stop outside of HoopDome, reading a book in the dim light of her bus.
I rushed up to her, and after thanking her endlessly, explained, “the tournament is running rather late. I don’t know if we’ll even finish by 11:30. My guess is that it’ll take til 11:45 or so.”
“No problem. I promise I won’t go home until all your students safely get to Downsview. It doesn’t matter how many trips it will take.”
Why on earth was she being so kind?
I hadn’t held the smallest expectation that a public transit driver would voluntarily offer her time on a Friday night to do something like this for us.
By 12:30 a.m., I rushed over with the last batch of students to the bus with a mix of energy and fatigue.
By now she had already made two or three trips shuttling students who left early.
At this time, I got all the students to put on a display of thanks, and we got her out of the bus to hand her flowers, chocolate, and a card (which a few friends and I hurriedly purchased for her) signed by coaches from all the regions, thanking her for all her kindness.
Awestruck at our display, she gladly accepted the flowers and gratitude.
Had she not been there to save us, we would have had to Uber more than 100 kids to Downsview, or, worse, walk 40 minutes to the station (which no one would want to do after a full day of traveling + 5 hours of basketball!)
Now, what I want to bring to your attention is the struggle that so many TTC (and other public transit) drivers have to endure every single day.
From people telling them to “f*** off,” to being punched in the face, to people spilling hot coffee on their faces (yes, it’s happened!), TTC drivers are mistreated day after day.
Someone even told her, “my bus fare pays your pay check, so I can say whatever the (beep) I want to you.”
The issue here is not an issue of paychecks.
Irrespective of the position someone holds in society, they are still a human being.
The issue here is an issue of humanity, and all bus drivers, janitors, CEOs, and every other socially constructed job on the planet, deserve to be treated in a manner representative of the kindness our human race aims to breed.
Heather was her name. She told me that our small display of thank you literally made up for years upon years of being told to “f*** off!” by passengers.
Sometimes she has had to pull over and put the bus in “not in service” because the abuse got so bad.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be to endure this type of senseless harassment day after day.
She was so grateful, and honestly, we were ever more, that in spite of all the ridiculous unkindness she has faced throughout her 20+ years of serving as a bus driver, she was able to rise above it all and offer a helping hand on a Friday night to such a large group of students.
Heather, you will always be remembered by the MIST Toronto family.
Thank you, Heather, for your unequivocal compassion, and may your future days be as bright as the kindness of your spirit.
And may this serve as a lesson for all of us to be people of compassion, and to share kindness not because it was somehow “earned,” but rather, because we feel generosity is a universal virtue that ought to be embraced.
Thank you for reading! And share if you’d like for others to know of the type of kindness that resonates in the wonderful city of Toronto. 🙂