Posted by: thediygeochemist | April 7, 2010

if you want someone to smile…

Recently, both Dr. Isis and Zuska have blogged about men who tell them to smile.

Like most of the commenters on these posts, I’ve had more than my fair share of people who tell me to smile. Most of them are men, but women do it too–usually following their admonition with the reasoning that “it can’t be that bad”. Of course, in some cases, life really has been that bad. (The time my mother was hospitalized for several weeks, in an overseas hospital where I couldn’t visit her, comes immediately to mind. To top it all off, my husband was unemployed at the time.)

These topic has prodded me to write a post I’ve been mulling over for some time, about a man who is a miracle worker in a very small way. His name is John, and he is a bus driver.

How can a bus driver work miracles, you ask? Very simply–if you get on his bus and ride for more than five minutes, you leave it smiling. It doesn’t matter how depressed or worried you are, John will make you forget your troubles–and soon you’ll be smiling or (more likely) laughing.

John knows everybody’s name and a good deal about each person. He asks me how my students are treating me. The Head Start worker gets asked about the preschoolers she deals with. He’s especially gentle with the lady who gets on at the County Human Services once a week after her (supervised) visits with her children–he always glows when she gets on the bus without tear tracks on her cheeks. If two regulars don’t know each other yet, he introduces them. In this way, I’ve started chatting with some people I otherwise wouldn’t talk to: young and old, male and female.

When he’s not asking about how our days have gone, John tells us stories. He has a gift for making even relatively humdrum situations into amusing anecdotes, and it is this talent that leaves me chuckling as I walk home from the bus stop in the evening.

John has never once told me to smile. Instead, he convinces me to smile by caring about me, by finding humor in everyday life, by sharing a bit of himself with everyone who boards his bus.

So a word of advice to those people out there who would tell me to smile: don’t order me to do so. Learn from John’s example and persuade me to do so instead.



  1. Someone needs to bake that man cookies.

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