I stood on the crowded bus, heart pounding and feeling flushed. I had read somewhere that a pregnant woman at rest is in effect working harder than the average person climbing a mountain. But that wasn’t the reason for my rapid heart rate and the resultant “glow.”
I was fuming. Here I was, over seven months pregnant, and no one offered me and my prominent belly their seat. I had been one of the last people to board the bus because nearly everyone else had pushed ahead to secure themselves a seat.
I had been involved in volunteer work in that Asian country for a few years. After a long day at a program for the underprivileged, the only transport available was a city bus, stuffy and packed with commuters. I could understand their end-of-the-workday weariness, but not their lack of common courtesy. Who wouldn’t offer a pregnant woman a seat? I stood there huffing to myself until I reached my destination.
The next day, I voiced my annoyance to a coworker. She sympathized and shared a few of her own experiences of having to deal with rude fellow passengers on buses. Back and forth we went about the lack of manners and consideration we sometimes encounter.
My husband listened silently for a few minutes, and then offered a few words of his own, which helped put things in perspective. “We want to make a difference with our projects and programs. The real test of our love, though, is the buses.”
He was right. I dedicate much of my time to helping others, but here I was, in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by all that I need, being critical of those same people. Who qualifies for my love and empathy? Only those who exhibit certain social graces that I consider elementary?
Sometimes it is healthy to travel on a hot, crowded bus, to see and feel the things that others face on a daily basis, to remember how blessed I am, and to be reminded that everyone needs and deserves love, respect, and consideration.