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Friday, August 8th, 2008


I'm an admittedly shy person. I struggle with it and work to push past it but it is part of me and keeps me from doing things that I'd like to do or should do. At times I won't let it. And usually if I do-I'm the better for it. Safety nets help. Props like a guitar to hold while singing or a dog with me to initiate a conversation and break the ice, or my baking. No, this isn't a baking blog (well partly but mostly not).

Months ago, when the fuel prices started jumping, a local TV station did a segment at the P&R (park&ride)-I'm guessing to talk to riders about changes in their daily commute due to prices. Our bus ran too early for the segment but the riders were lucky enough to reap the rewards without the interviews. The news-folks gave away free umbrellas (always useful in Oregon) and free chocolate chip cookies (from a local bakery). I noted how everyone enjoyed them so much and what a transition came over the normally low-key 5:30 AM riders. They laughed, they talked-their whole day seemed brighter. I made a mental note to bring cookies from time to time to give their morning an occasional boost of fun. Weather, other baking projects, light-ridership in the summer with many vacations, etc. have kept me from my promise.

One of the regular bus-riders got a new job. His new job eliminates the need to ride the bus downtown. He can ride his motorcycle directly to work, park for free, and start work later without the time needed to commute back and forth to a P&R. He mentioned last week that his last day on the bus would be today and he'd start the new job on Monday. I decided then I would use his transition and celebration to motivate me to make those cookies. I didn't realize at the time that it would be so hot this week. My kitchen is hovering around 80+ degrees most of the time. I felt a lack of enthusiasm to bake cookies last night but I pushed myself to get up and do it and survived (a little drained and overheated but none the worse for wear). My shy side was struggling-would he think it weird or awkward or enjoy it? Would he catch the earlier bus (common with him) and I'd miss him altogether? I packed the cookies in small paper sacks like the bakeries use-2 to a sack (yes, DBCC cookies but let's not get distracted) and stored them in large zip-lock bags. I figured if it didn't work out, I could bring them home and ship them to a co-worker I plan to send cookies to anyway.

When I got to the P&R, I was happy to see he didn't catch the early bus. Now, warring with my shyness, I went up and wished him a good morning and dove in. I stuck out my hand and said "my name is Linda-we've never been introduced and shared names". He took my hand and said "my name is Michael". I proceeded to tell him I brought cookies for his last day to celebrate his "retirement" from the bus-stop. He got a great laugh off of it but seemed to appreciate the cookies. We talked about his current job, his soon-to-be-ex-coworkers, his new job, etc. Gradually new riders drifted up. I pushed down my shyness again and went up to each and said "Michael is starting a new job on Monday and we are celebrating his retirement as a bus-rider with chocolate chip cookies-if you would like some". One rider turned me down-thinking he would have to eat them immediately until I told him they were in a bag to carry, he changed his mind and took the offering. The rest didn't hesitate and some dove right in and started eating cookies for breakfast (Merrick says that is a good use for a cookie!).

Everyone started congratulating Michael and asking questions about his new job, where it was, what type of job, etc. Some started talking about how long they had been riders (one was 28 years-yikes!) and chatting with each other.

How quickly we turned from a group of people happy it is Friday but struggling to start the day to a group of people sharing a moment with a co-rider and wishing him well. The late arrivals missed out-I had to board the bus.

I handed off the remaining cookies to Michael to share with his co-workers on his last day and maybe his family when he gets home tonight. Hopefully the cookies, camaraderie and positive start to the day will carry over for everyone but especially for Michael as he segues from one job to another. He seems like a nice guy and I wish him well. The job sounds challenging and permanent unlike the current contract work with its less than solid security in this economy. And he said the company is small but a good company.

Good Luck, Michael!

Sounded like a fun morning. One question: It sounds like you didn't know him before so how did you know he was starting a new job? Did you overhear a conversation on the bus? I would have felt weird about following through on something I heard.
LimeyGeorge   Friday, August 8, 2008
Stranger or not, DBCC cookies? Yeah, I would have taken them. Hell, I may have created some fictitious event of my own just to see if you would bring more lol!

Seriously, that was very sweet of you and I am sure it made a positive impression on many today!
Ericka P & Co. ♥   Friday, August 8, 2008
Wow Linda- good for you! I love it when people step out of their normal routine to brighten the day for someone else. Its one of my favorite things to do! I figuring out more and more that it's a good thing you and I aren't neighbors or we'd put our heads together and have way too much fun. ;-)

I bet today was Michael's best day for the whole month. He's going to remember your kindness for years to come. Bravo!
Lionheart   Friday, August 8, 2008
This was a wonderful story, and a good reminder of how important it is to make others feel special!
ChinaCalling   Friday, August 8, 2008
George, I didn't want to get more long-winded than I tend to be. I still want to write a blog on bus-commuters and their unusual relationship with each other--just haven't worked it out in my head yet. We chatted about this and that most mornings I saw him but I didn't know his name, so I felt it was valid to say we didn't "know" each other. But, you have these imtimate conversations with strangers at bus-stops and then realize how little you know them--most of the time not even knowing their name but yet you know their kids' names, their spouse's name, where they work, where they live, what they do for a living, etc. It's odd. We had talked about him changing jobs and his interview prior to that so it wasn't overheard--we had a legitimate conversation so he knew how I knew. :)
LGrant   Friday, August 8, 2008
Thanks for the kudos, Lion, China & Erica. I hope the blog does show that we can impact someone's day with the smallest of gestures and that we are all people if we take the time to stop and discover it. :) I've seen a lot of variations of riders over the (nearly) 6 years I have lived here and it is interesting what affects people who have this odd relationship and how you get to know them in some ways and yet don't know them at all in others. I hope Michael's day is special but I think the people in line did more than the cookies that might have broken the ice for them--at least that was my hope. The cookies were just a prop for us all. :)
LGrant   Friday, August 8, 2008
Your act of kindness will continue to ripple throughout the day.I hope your day was as special as you made Michael's!
dannie   Friday, August 8, 2008
I have to say my day was great--no complaints! :)
LGrant   Friday, August 8, 2008
What a great story. I think these "random acts of kindness" are needed more often these days.
girlcarew   Saturday, August 9, 2008
I agree girlcarew, It really is the simple things in life that make a difference in anyones day. I think at times we are all too shy and afraid someone will refuse conversation etc. Linda, you should feel very proud for breaking out of your shyness for such a good thing. Great job! I am sure next time you will have no hesitation either.
SA Tenor   Saturday, August 9, 2008
I agree too...I love the idea of sharing your DBCC's with "strangers" as a random act of kindness. I bet every one of those people had a bit more pep in their steps yesterday because of you. Good work!
Jules   Saturday, August 9, 2008
This blog is awesome. It is amazing how your act of kindness and generosity impacted everyone that morning. I'll bet if you polled the recipients later you would find that they all had great days. Happiness is so contagious. One of my all time favorite movies is "Pay It Forward". Same principal that you exercised that day, but on a grander scale. Linda, I am so impressed by all that you do for others. You are a wonderful role model to many people.
Leslie   Sunday, August 10, 2008
Hey Sis, I am very proud of you. I struggle with shyness too... I know that is hard for you and a lot of others to beleive. If I had been second instead or firstborn, I would have probably made you do all the talking.. LOL Chocolate chip cookies are a great medium for transitional anxiety. I have never met anyone who could turn them down or eat just one. I am sure the day became more special for a lot of people because of what you did.... not to mention Michael. The only sad thing is that sometimes in this day and time, we are afraid to eat a strangers food. Thank God, Michael does not have that problem. Congratulations on a new adventrure and new friends! Love, Your big sister
gigi   Tuesday, August 19, 2008
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