I travel quite extensively. At some airports, there are shuttle buses that take passengers to the car rental facilities. I have seen quite a bit of bus drivers in my time of traveling. Yet, only one bus driver’s name I can recall. His name is Tom. I like to call him — Tom the Whistler. Whether he’s waiting for passengers to get on the bus, or he’s helping customers with their luggage, or driving the bus, Tom is always whistling. He looks a little bit like Santa Claus, and there’s a wintry mix of cinnamon and smokey musk that lingers as he passes by. There’s something comforting about Tom. He’s quick to share his observations about the world, if anyone is listening. And his simple presence makes me believe that there is goodness in everyone.
I don’t know much about Tom. I know that he has a wife. I know he likes to drink martinis after work. I know that he is in bed by 9:15 every night. I know he hates when people forget to turn on their headlights in fog or dusk. I know he can barely make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, as “those days are long gone, ancient history” of Tom’s younger years. I don’t know much, but I know some.
Yesterday, I had the chance to tell Tom that I love that he whistles; that his whistling calms me after a long day of air travel. His cheeks turned as red as Ole Saint Nick’s.
Last week when an 8th grade student introduced me to the word, ‘sonder’, I was moved by it’s deliberate simplicity. We are all three dimensional beings passing by, leaving tiny marks of influence on each other. And that, my friends, is one heck of a reason to continue to live. Tom did that for me, as I hope, in some small way, I did that for him.
I thank Tom for getting me safely to my destination. I thank him for his stories. I thank Tom for continuing to whistle, and for bringing all of us calm on this lonely wintry night.