by Tilas T.
Yukon Territory, Canada
When I was 20, in summer 2004, I took the bus down to stay with a friend for two weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My friend worked days, so I decided to go exploring on my own. I knew where I was, up near the UBC Campus. I knew where I wanted to go, the Vancouver Aquarium. It sounded simple.
Now, I’ve lived and grown up in a tiny 1,000-person town in the Yukon Territory all my life, rarely leaving it. Being a “small town girl”, I admit I’m fairly ignorant about city life.
Soon I was completely lost. Finally I boarded a public transit bus, figuring they must do a circle, right? I rode a good half hour before becoming frustrated and getting off. I walked quite a while, up and down various blocks, no idea where I was.
People at home always told me no one cares in the city, so I was afraid to talk to anyone.
I got on another bus, and began “bus hopping” again. Finally, after hours, I decided to get on ONE bus, and stay on until I recognized something. I rode that bus well over an hour. Nothing ever seemed familiar. I began to get scared. I had no cell phone, and didn’t even know my friend’s work number.
As I was about to give up and leave the bus, the driver asked where I wanted to go. I told him the aquarium, and he laughed, saying his bus wouldn’t go anywhere near, for we were now in Surrey, BC! (Surrey and Vancouver connect.)
I sunk back in my seat, really afraid and upset. He asked where I was from, and I told him, how I was visiting and now just wanted to go back to my friend’s place.
Amazingly, the driver pulled the bus over, stopped and called me to the front. He began printing tickets from his machine and numbering them. He gave me detailed instructions as to which buses to take, and how to understand the bus system.
I was shocked. He spent a good twenty minutes with me, telling me everything I needed to know, before giving me the tickets. I thanked him repeatedly, and asked him how much I owed for all the tickets. “Nothing. Just please get yourself home to the Yukon, young lady. You belong there.”
Thanks to his kindness, I was able to make my way back to my friend’s house, a LOT faster then I wound up in Surrey! I don’t know what I would have done had that driver not taken the time out of his (and the other passengers) day to help me, and the amazing kindness to simply give me those tickets.
I never did learn his name, but I’ll always remember him. People had told me that in the city, no one cares, but now I know that’s not always true. That driver cared enough to help a foolish young northerner find her way home.