September 21, 2011

I found Sal, pilot of the Happy Love Spaceship.

Give joy, hope, courage, something of value, to those you pass and those you come in contact with. ~Ralph Waldo Trine

About a year ago, I wrote a story about Sal, an eccentric bus driver who I would run into occasionally on the commute from North Jersey into New York City. As I wrote here on the pages of Elephant Journal:

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…

“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!”

At the time I wrote that I hadn’t seen Sal in 10 years, but he has been found. It seems I wasn’t the only one who noticed him, he was recently written up in the pages of the New Yorker magazine. (Where I was reminded he also use to line the dashboard of his bus with a row of small rubber ducks.)

Sal, full name Sal Siano, retired last December after 42 years on the job and is now working odd jobs to keep busy when he’s not relaxing in a nearby park. Through the wonders of the Internet, I even found a picture of Sal in a local publication (picture above), at rest on the park grass by a rose garden.

The lesson Sal taught me:

Chances are you make contact with dozens of people each day and each of these interactions gives you the opportunity to pass along something of value. A kind word, a pat on the back, a heart-felt thank you—all of these actions have the power to lift the spirits of those you encounter, and have a way of helping you feel better as well.

This is what Sal did every day and I have no doubt that in retirement he continues to do it to this day. When I think back to his example, it actually makes me want to be a better person. I don’t doubt he has had the same effect on hundreds, and possibly thousands of others who at one time crossed his path.

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