October 21, 2010

Riding to Paradise Aboard the Happy Love Spaceship.

I used to commute by bus from North Jersey into New York City, and every once in a while I would ride with a bus driver who was very different from the rest.

Unlike any other driver on the line, he was always smiling and gave you a hearty and lyrical “Good morning!” when you boarded his bus. He was also one of the few drivers who ever spoke over the bus’s public address system, which he used in a rather unorthodox way.

“Welcome aboard the happy love spaceship. Sit back and enjoy the ride,” was one regular announcement he made.

On the coldest, grayest days of winter he would pronounce: “It’s a beautiful day in paradise!”

Then, upon our arrival into New York City, in the dark and dingy Port Authority bus terminal, he would make his final declaration as we departed the bus. It usually went something like this:

‘Welcome to the beautiful beaches of Maui where it is 72 degrees. Get your complimentary Margarita on the way out. And don’t forget to put on sunscreen. Be safe and have a great day!”

One day I changed routes and never saw the driver again. But 10 years later, I still remember him—and the lesson he taught me. Our state-of-mind has nothing to do with what’s happening around us. And everything to do with what’s happening inside.

Addendum: Just a few days ago, I had reason to ride the same bus line again and overheard a conversation between the driver and a passenger. “Crazy Sal?” said the driver. “He still works for us part time. That guy’s a nut.” And it stuck me—Sal was the name of the driver I rode with 10 years ago. If I can track him down, I’ll tell you about it here in a few weeks.


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