Random acts observed

Daphne Macklin
3 min readJul 22, 2017

Hot summer afternoon in Sacramento. The bus wasn’t crowded but it still felt cramped and way too warm. This route ranges across an eastern main thoroughfare in Sacramento, Sunrise Boulevard. An older man, Hispanic, had boarded the bus. A few stops later two Black teen boys got on the bus, joshing each other before taking two seats, one in front of the other, chatting each other up the way mid-teens do as the later days of July start to move into August and the need to return to school.

The bus edged up to a stop with a bench, sometimes a rare thing. Two young women were waiting to board along with a rolling carrier for groceries, a folded-up baby stroller and one of those portable car-seat baby carriers complete with a young baby.

Once the bus rolled to a stop. The older man hopped off the bus and promptly hopped back on carrying the baby carrier with the baby. These things are designed for safety and also appear to also have been designed for people with cars into which the seats can be safely latched and left. On public busses, the things are rather enormous and bulky, but at least the baby is safe.

One of the pair of teen boys was seated on the first bench seat on the bus, the one with lots of wide open space and which is routinely where people in wheelchairs are seated and latched to the hook-ups on the bus. These seats are also designated by the sign that says they must be surrendered to the elderly and disabled. In this situation, the seat needed to be surrendered to a young mother so she could have a seat where the bundled baby carrier could be placed next to her. The kid gave up the seat and the older man slid the carrier next to the window but still held the carrier, until, the other teen boy grabbed the handle by reaching over the back of the seat. Baby was now safe and stable.

The young mother bundled her shopping on to the bus, and what was most likely the female friend who had also gone on the shopping trip, took charge of the folded-up stroller. I think someone else moved toward the back of the bus so that the friend with the stroller could sit at the front of the bus where there was room to stow the folded stroller. The mother took her seat next to the baby carrier, thanked the kid who had been holding it in place and settled in for her ride.

The bus driver waited for everyone including the man who had gotten off the bus to help with the baby carrier to get settled. Then we took off, again.

This act of civic engagement, common courtesy and just plain co-operating probably took less than two minutes. Nobody whined, whinged or otherwise complained about how much time it was all taking. Things just got done.

I thought about writing about the incident while I watched it happened. I decided not to, until today when I had two sets of “why did you write this” responses to two articles. One article was angry and the other was snarky. Neither of them made you feel very good about people or the human condition.

Maybe people should write more about their objective observance of random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. I figured I’d give it a shot.

Oh and did I mention that the guy who got off the bus to help the two women get on with the baby was riding a bicycle? Yeah, some people are just considerate by nature.