I saw a young girl yesterday morning who was trying to find someone to wave to her.
She was in a school bus, and was trying so hard to grab the attention of someone, anyone, so long as they waved to her. She waved a couple of times to passers, but they couldn’t see her so they didn’t wave back. One or two pedestrians must have seen her, but they walked right past, and didn’t wave back. I observed the little girl closely, her skin pale and white contrasted sharply against her dark black hair. She must have been 10 or 11, maybe younger. Yet most of the pedestrians and commuters (all this was happening near a tram stop) – who no doubt were on their way to work – couldn’t as much as notice her. Or care. Not even a glimpse, a smile, a small little wave. No, nothing. Some of the pedestrians were smoking, others immersed in their thoughts, nobody was talking to anybody. Some had those disposable cups of tea/ coffee in their hands, some were listening to music and had headphones, some wore gloves to protect against the morning cold, others were talking or texting on mobile phones as they walked, and still others tightly held onto their handbags, but all oblivious to this young girl who was seeking a tiny little friendly gesture, a little bit of friendly attention, seeking only a wave, maybe a smile to accompany it. Nothing more.
It was 8am, and after 3 or 4 minutes watching this scene, my eyes had filled with tears. I wept. I was not near enough the school bus to be able to wave to this little girl. I wanted to abandon the car right there in the traffic, to get out and run towards the school bus (which was on a side road, waiting to join the main traffic) just to wave to this young girl, who looked lonely, who looked needy, who looked troubled. Maybe she came from a broken family, maybe her parents had just divorced, maybe there was strife and unrest in her home, maybe one of her parents had lost their job, maybe she didn’t have good friends, I don’t know…..just too many maybe’s.
I don’t know why, but I panicked. Like, really panicked. Why couldn’t anybody on the street notice that little girl? Why couldn’t anybody take 5 seconds to smile and wave at her? Was humanity that busy and self-absorbed that they couldnt find 5 seconds to smile and wave at a little girl? I was getting really upset.
Okay, the fact that she was in a school bus meant that someone could afford to pay for her transport, which was good (and consoling) , but what else was happening to her? And why won’t anybody wave to her?
Suddenly my priorities changed. Instead of being enroute from home to work, I was now going to find a spot next to that school bus, so that when I positioned my car in that spot I could see the girl, and she could see me, and I could smile and wave to her, to show her that some people weren’t too busy to wave, that some people could smile, that some people cared. That life was not only about rushing to work and making money, ignoring everything else.
I tried to get close to the school bus, changing lanes, hooting to the idiot in the Audi A3 in the next lane to give me way (who refused to do so), I even gesticulated to another driver with urgency to give me way, all in an attempt to follow the school bus. He too refused to let me through.
And unfortuantely, the school bus entered the main road, two cars ahead of my car, then passed a set of traffic lights, which funny enough changed to red at that moment. The school bus was gone, just like that.
It must have taken a corner, because two minutes later when the lights changed back to green, I fruitlessly tried to follow it , but it was gone…obvioulsy to a school somewhere. After a 10 minute guess-search frantically looking for a random school bus, I abandoned the search. I could only wipe my dry tears and hope that the little girl was fine. I could only hope she would be okay…whatever was happening in her life. Maybe she was fine after all, maybe all was well, maybe I was overreacting…maybe she was happy, and wanted to share her happiness with somone else, with a wave. I don’t know…I’ll never know. I can only hope so, I sincerely hope so. What a life!