—– Original Message —–
Subject: The Richest Man On The Bus
He is on my bus only occasionally, a worn man in crumpled
clothing with disheveled hair. His life looks different from the
rest of ours. We are mostly middle income. His face is etched
with exhaustion and he carries virtually no belongings. We drive
ourselves to the parking lot. He appears along a busy road
seemingly out of nowhere. We sometimes wonder where he slept the
A few weeks ago he boarded the bus, took one of the side facing
front seats and as he typically does and looked down at the
A few stops later a young woman boarded, a regular rider who
speaks good but not native English. She swipes her bus pass only
to find the machine would not accept it. The driver told her she
would have to deposit the $2.25 fare. “I just bought this card,”
she said, “I paid the money.”
The driver said she could take the card back to the sales office
and explain the problem. In the meantime she would have to pay
the fare for today. The woman became distressed and didn’t
understand why she would have to pay the fare. The rest of us
just watched wondering how the problem would be solved.
Suddenly the crumpled clothed man rose from his seat, dropped a
jingle of coins into the fare box and sat back down, his eyes
returning to the floor. His act was so unobtrusive that the
distressed passenger didn’t even realize what had happened.
“You’re good,” the bus driver said quietly, “he paid for you.”
The bus driver repeated it and pulled away from the curb. A hush
fell over the bus.
The rest of us had watched the woman’s discomfort, he felt it.
We wondered absently how the dilemma would be resolved.
He resolved it.
We lawyers, journalists, business people were headed downtown to
help fix the world. He fixed her world. We could have paid the
$2.25 and never missed it. It’s easy to imagine that was his
You never know when you’ll be in the presence of greatness or of
grace. To the world my fellow passenger looked like a man in
need of solutions. I had looked at him and saw only what he
By the time he stepped off the bus that morning, it was obvious
that he was a richer man then the rest of us. He had enough to
open his eyes and his heart to a stranger, enough to give of
what he had and trust life for the rest.
I haven’t seen him since that day. Some people believe angels
occasionally drop down and move among us. All I know is that I
have a new respect for the simple act of kindness. It keeps the
bus rolling, it speeds us along the way.”
~Krista Ramsey; Cincinnati Enquirer; Nov 26, 2010; pg. A.150~