Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LESSONS IN MORALITY


This is a picture of a bus stop.  You may be wondering why it's here.

It's a new stop.  It's only been there for a couple of weeks.  Other than that, it's a fairly ordinary stop.  It's also an old stop.  It was a stop for a long time, until it got moved one block North.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, it got moved one block South again, and here it is.

It is, in short, the 830 Northbound stop at 100 North, 200 East, in Provo.

I had occasion to visit my old stomping grounds South of BYU Campus last week, and while I was there, I saw this bus stop.  And I was surprised at the poignant feeling I felt inside.  I thought, "Why couldn't that sign have been THERE two years ago?"

You see, it was just about two years ago that I learned an important lesson in morality, right here at this corner, while catching a bus.

This corner was not an official 830 stop at the time, but the 830 was on detour, and so used this corner to pick up and drop off passengers.  I should say, the 830 almost used this corner.

The temporary stop sign was placed a good 150 feet to the West of where the bench then sat, and now sits.  This created a difficulty: should I wait at the bench, or at the sign?  Oh, I know the rules say wait at the sign, but some bus drivers used to stop at the bench.  Most of them didn't make a big beef about which one you stood at, anyway.  I like to think that my intentions were pretty clear.  The corner of 200 East isn't really a popular sunbathing spot.

Many of you have heard the story of how a certain bus driver pulled up to the stop one night, slamming hard on the brakes exactly in front of the sign, throwing up his hands in righteous indignation with utter injustice plastered across his ample face.  I still get hot inside when I think of how I walked up to the stopped bus, only to get on and have him shout at me that where I was standing was not a bus stop, and how could he pick me up if I weren't standing at a bus stop?  At the time I was furious.

I shouted back.  I am known for being a person who keeps his feelings under wraps (though I do say many snarky things online that I probably wouldn't in public).  I have only lost my temper in public a very few times since returning from my mission.  But I was sick of being told that I didn't know how to ride a bus, sick of being treated like dirt by someone who didn't even know me, sick of feeling like I was being accused of shanking this man's only child when all I had really done was stand too far away from the bus sign, even though every other bus driver in the system would have picked me up anyway and not made a big deal about it.  So I shouted back.  And I freely admit that I still feel a little cold satisfaction when I think of how it took him by surprise, when I think of how I sneered at his retort and blandly walked down the aisle to my favorite seat (according to my seat-finding algorithm, which I always follow).

Apparently, the Anal-Retentive Bus Driver isn't used to being stood up to.

Now, fairness requires the observation that Anal-Retentive has been a lot nicer than he used to be.  He's been downright decent, at times, and this brings me joy.  I hope that he may be decent forever, and not harass any more slightly incorrect passengers.  I hope that this story refers only to past conditions, and that there will be no further need to belabor the point when this post is o'er.  At the time, though, I wondered how I could get him fired.  I composed about twenty angry emails to UTA that evening, none of which I sent, because, well, he was technically right.  I wasn't standing next to the bus stop sign.

It wasn't until considerably later that I realized he was actually wrong.

People who use their correctness or their moral superiority as a bludgeon are wrong.  The fact that someone is right about something does not give him or her the right to abuse other people.  It isn't right.  I have been fortunate in that I've only met a few people in my life that are this way.  It was hard for me to understand them, or why I was so angry at them, until I realized that they are, in fact, wrong.  Now I pity them.  I pity them because they feel they have to resort to pushing other people around to get their way.  I pity them because I have learned in a few short years lessons that will elude them for the rest of their lives.  I do not hold this over them, but I pity them.  And I have learned that I do not need to feel guilty when I have committed a minor indiscretion and someone tries to hold it over my head, nor do I owe such a person any apology or recompense when their supposed complaint against me is only that I stood up to their bullying, or that they need leverage to try to control me or gratify their own ego at my expense.  While I humbly beg pardon for any minor indiscretions I may have committed, I am not really the one who stands in need of forgiveness.

Forgive me; that's getting awfully thick.  I certainly didn't intend for this post to be so long.  Bless you, if you got here, for reading this far.  I hope this is useful to at least someone who reads it.  If not, please excuse me this post and check back tomorrow, when I shall post something amusing.  Until then, good night.

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