On a Bus in Mexico City: A True Story About Compassion

A man gets on the bus. He’s holding an old cell phone to his ear. He obviously isn’t from Mexico City because he asks the driver how much the fare is. The driver tells him and he fumbles in his pocket for the change.

“Does this bus go to the hospital?” he asks the driver as he’s paying. Then into the cell phone, he says, “Because I only have 15 pesos!”

“Yeah, I left as soon I got the call. I got something to eat on the road,” he continues into the cell phone as he scans the half empty bus for a seat.

“They’re holding her body in the morgue at the hospital.” At the word “morgue” the other passengers perk up their ears.

“Well, meet me there. I have to identify her before two so that the funeral guys can pick her up.” He’s sitting hunched over in an isle seat. The passengers are wondering who died.

“No, before two. âÂ?¦ You know how they are. âÂ?¦ Tony loaned us the money to pay them. I don’t know. We’ll just get her home first. My wife is getting the house ready for the wake.” Oh jeeze! It’s his daughter.

“O.K. I guess. âÂ?¦ I don’t know. The officer who called said they found her on the ground next to the highway.” Damn! It was a violent crime. Now he’s starting to cry. You can hear it in his voice.

“Yeah. Pretty bad he said. I don’t know. âÂ?¦ They just beat her to death and took the truck.” He shifts the cell phone to his other ear, wipes his eyes. The passengers on the bus are starting to mentally count how much money they have in their wallets. This guy only has 15 pesos. He’s obviously been on the road for hours. He’s facing a lot of paperwork, a long trip home, an unexpected funeral.

“âÂ?¦Seven months. My son-in-law is on his way. He got the next bus out of Campeche.” His voice is getting louder as the emotion overtakes him. Damn! Two funerals. The guy has to bury an unborn grandchild too.

A passenger gets up to signal his stop. He doesn’t ring the bell at the back of the bus. He walks to the front and hands the guy a folded bill. The man is surprised. He looks up from the money newly pressed into his moist hand and says, “No. No. You don’t have to.” The passenger just nods and darts down the front steps of the bus.

Suddenly everyone has their wallet in their hands. They pull out their 50 peso bills, 200s, saving just enough to get back home at the end of the day. They walk up to the man, one at a time as they approach their stops and hand it to him. “No. No. âÂ?¦I’ll pay you back.”

He fumbles with his watch. “Here take my watch.”

“No, sir. It’s yours.” They say. One man in a smart business suit hands him a 1000 pesos.

They get off of the bus one by one wishing they could have given him more. – jt

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