Watermarks of Courtesy
Yet another casualty of the mass recruitment in our company was an unlucky guy who was stranded on the bus aisle today since all the seats were occupied. Or so he thought.
I had managed to capture the rear window seat before it could be lost; vacant seats had suddenly become an endangered species. The guy who comfortably sat beside me by spreading his limbs as far and wide as possible was apparently in no mood to sacrifice the extraneous space as more and more people squeezed in. Finally, only an unlucky individual was left with no seat to call his own. He stood at the rear end of the aisle, close to us. My neighbor, indifferent and not feeling any tug of guilt, plugged his earphones and lost himself to FM. I wasn't too pleased with what I saw, especially since two seats were occupied when only one was needed, robbing a hapless guy of what was his due.
I recalled how Dad would place me on his lap when I was a child during bus rides to accommodate a fellow passenger beside him, although I wasn't too appreciative of this courtesy then. Anyway, I asked my neighbor to slide closer and make space for the guy, a suggestion that was readily put into action. The vacancy was gratefully accepted as the man slumped there and tried to catch a wink or two.
I couldn't help remembering another equally petty incident that had happened one morning when I was walking to the bus stop. A ragged looking vendor was offloading vegetable crates from his two-wheeler when one of them gently brushed against me. The vendor immediately turned to me and humbly offered an apology even though there was no reason to. Such etiquettes are rare. That he was aware of it in the first place was surprising enough. That he actually decided to use it so wholeheartedly was surprising still. He bought me over with his gesture.
Little incidents leave a lasting impression on us. Long term memory is like a camera, freezing ephemeral moments that could easily pass off as ordinary and dispensable otherwise. These are the precious moments that leave behind an indelible imprint on our minds.
One such incident that was constantly recited by Dad almost drove me to insanity! He was attending a party whose details are all lost upon me. A young lad needed to reach out for something that was placed behind Dad. Since it was very crowded and Dad didn't have any space to shift to, he had to slightly duck as the man extended an arm and got what he wanted. No big deal. But it became one when he gently apologized for causing the trouble. The party was evanescent, but the courtesy had a lasting impression.
Such little things are what we often end up treasuring the most. These watermarks of courtesy make us what we are: humans.
Addendum: By the way, there was a short circuit today in the path the bus book took to register our attendance. It took a U turn at the penultimate row (the one immediately ahead of us) and switched to the other side and direction. We heavily jolted rear seaters deserve the miss!