November 13, 2015

CATS Bus' driver

Was driving back from class just now and saw few people standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus (obviously). Including older lady/grandma with groceries shopping bags and stick on the other hand. Might be to help her walking better without having to crouch her back pain. I saw the older lady with a glance and silently hoping and praying that someone would be able to help her carrying all those bags. Having to experience the same thing before, all of her fingers must be in pain, I thought to myself.

I used to ride the bus everywhere I go before I purchased the current car that I have right now. I would walk from my place to the bus stop every morning while holding all of my super heavy durable hefty books; Calculus, Economics, History, Business I, Business II, Business III IV V urgh you named it! I did put few on my tote bag but not all of the books could fit in them, so I would depend on the power of my hand to carry the remaining. And yes, I bring tote bag everywhere to class. I did not use book bag anymore, it made me feel like I was in high school all over again-_- Anyway, to add to the spice of having to hold all of these super heavy duty books, I would then use my other hand trying to take selfies sending it to my loves ones. Something I never failed to do, no wonder I always got a weird looking face from one of the lady there lol sorry lady I really am busy.

My first experience of riding bus to class was not smooth at all. Well, not exactly to class, I was supposed to have my very first meeting with one of the advisor before the class started. The night before I thought, "this is easy, I just need to look at the schedule online and I'm good to go". Went online with my so called confidence, and trust me, I could not even understand anything that the schedule says. They were using all these weird 'inbound' 'outbound' term which makes me confused even more. So I thought I would just call the help center and ask them what time will the bus comes. But for a first time rider, when the lady that picked up the phone asked the name of the road and all, I would stayed silence for god knows how long trying to catch one of the board's sign with my eyes. Sigh, how would I remember every road's name on a first day?

Thus, I ended up missed my very first bus and my brain told me to walk straight from my place to college. I crossed the road, walked straight ahead, avoiding any eye contact with any of the cars' drivers, making sure that my heavy duty books were all with me. It really felt like as if I was walking besides a giant highway with all the cars zoom-ing by my sides. Whatever, my appointment with my advisor far way important than my dignity of having to walk on the so-called-highway right now, I thought.

For good two years I rode the bus almost everyday, for good two years I learned how to check on the bus schedule the night before, I learned that I need to wait at the bus stop at least ten minutes before the bus came (although I sometimes late and have to run like a mad person after), and I learned to smile and say thank you to whoever that drive the bus that I rode no matter how bad my day was. Back in Malaysia, I rarely used bus to take me to places. I would prefer taking LRT,walk, or took my mom's car without telling her ever since I could drive. But living here, if you did not have car to drive, or in my case, not able to buy one yet, people would prefer to take the bus. Whenever you go, you can see lots and lots of bus stop stands. Cab? Please, those yellow car with signs around them would only came if you called or if you are really really really have so many cash to spend just to get you to the destinations, but come on to go to class by cab? really? I would prefer to walk.

And if Malaysia has Rapid's bus, a city like Charlotte has Cats bus. CATS. Kucing.

Between the two years, I have met and saw different type of people especially if I was early waiting for the bus to come. Once, while I was getting ready to swipe my card on the bus' card swiper, all I heard was "Assalamua'laikum" from the bus' driver. I was stunned for awhile, mumbling answering the salam and when I looked up, there was this guy, greeting me with a big smile on his face, and asked "how was your day sister?", probably because he knows that I was shocked. Could not remember what I told him but I'm pretty sure I told him the same 'cliche' answer, 'good!' while smiling back. From that moment on, every time I ride the bus, I would expect to see the exact same bus driver. It happened to be that he is in-charge to drive the same route and the same bus every day. There was this time when I went for grocery shopping for my small apartment, I was carrying all of huge and heavy plastic bags that almost torn at the end because of the heaviness. I walked from the store to the bus stop and waited for the bus for good twenty minutes but to no avail. I thought I was the one that late, but when I was about to call the help center, I saw the exact same bus swaying from afar heading to my directions. 'CAT's bus driver!', I knew the exact same person was coming to my way and somehow I felt.....


"How was your day sister?", exact same questions that he would asked after gave his salam. Knowing him for half a year and meeting the same person, I could already memorize all the questions that he would asked me, "How was your day sister?", "Are you doing good today?", "It's really hot right?", "Were all your things have been taken care of?", "What's your phone number?" OK, I add the last part up but you know what I meant.

Sometimes, just sometimes, he would tell his stories about how he moved to the States with just his high school certificate, how he tried endlessly to get himself just one decent job to support himself and his kids, how he was so happy and enjoyed driving the bus every single day and appreciate his current job. Every time I was in the bus I sometimes observed of how happy he greets people coming into his bus, and getting off from it. How good he made people felt at the end of the day. No matter whoever got into his bus, he would gladly smile. 

Until this one day when I was coming back from work, stepped into his bus as usual and was about to swipe my card, he greeted me with a smile and asked the exact same question (you guys would already know about it by now). I was about to go and take my seat and he stopped me. He told me that today was going to be his last day driving this route, he got promoted and the department asked him to change the route. Just when I thought I would feel really, really safe taking the bus every day, and really really glad for someone to ask me about my day, he suddenly gave me that news and I... just did not know how to respond to it. I smiled, and told him I'm glad. 

Living in a non-Muslim country, you would actually be surprised of many Muslim people that you can find around you. It is whether you choose to notice it,  or not. Most of the time it is easier to detect Muslim women in general because of the appearance and clothes and what women choose to wear, but for men, you can barely tell, unless he walked pass by you and suddenly gave salam. 

Every time I passed by the bus stops now I would think of how passionate he is with his job. It might seems small, but without him, the bus would never be able to drive itself.

Photo that I managed to capture couple months back 

Before I got off from the bus that day, I looked back at him for one last time,

"May Allah protect you all the time sister", still with a big smile and sweat running down his face.

A guy full of duas'; he is.