by Andara Bledin
In the late ’80s, my brother, David, barely a teenager, took his first long trip on his own, to visit my grandmother.
When our mother put David on the bus she explained to the driver that he was a minor traveling on his own, and asked the driver to make some effort to ensure he reached his destination 400 miles away without incident.
Another rider, Jesse, overhearing our mother’s explanation to the driver, introduced himself and offered to keep an eye on my brother. Our mother accepted. The driver would be busy with an entire bus full of passengers, but a fellow passenger would not have such distractions.
The bus ride, unfortunately, was not quite without incident. There had been an accident on the two-lane highway, and fire crews were on hand to put out a blaze that had erupted from one of the vehicles.
The bus, unable to pass, was stopped on the highway, and many of the passengers stepped outside to gawk at the spectacle and to take the opportunity to stretch their legs.
Once the blaze was out and the emergency crews had the lanes cleared for travel, the bus driver called for everyone to get back on the bus and started moving again.
However, he never counted of his passengers — and left eight of them behind, stranded at the side of the road in the middle of the California desert. David was one of those left behind.
True to his word, Jesse, who had promised that he would keep an eye on my brother, was by his side.
A number of motorists, who had been forced to stop and wait for the roadway to be cleared, were appalled to see so many people left behind after the bus drove off. Soon all of the travelers were found places in various cars so they could reach the bus station, still nearly 100 miles away.
David and his new friend chatted together during the drive with the family that had offered them a ride, and discovered that they each were visiting their grandparents. Not only that, but their grandparents had settled in the same neighborhood, and lived mere blocks from each other.
Although the boys were safe, my aunt was at the bus station waiting to pick up my brother. When the bus arrived and he was missing, she was worried and raised a fuss! Once Jesse and David arrived and retrieved their luggage, Jesse handed my brother’s care over to our aunt, who was still waiting at the station.
My mother was so relieved to learn that Jesse had kept his word to look out for David. She wrote Jesse a letter, which she sent to my brother and he gave to Jesse, thanking Jesse for his diligence and expressing her motherly gratitude.