It was a beautiful morning, and John was standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus like he did every morning around that time. John was generally considered to be a nice guy. He was optimistic, always prepared to listen to, and to help a friend in need, and cheerful when he wasn’t quiet. But most of the time John was a quiet person and he always seemed busy thinking about something according to people who knew him. They were very close to the truth; John always had lots to think about.
The bus finally arrived but was a few minutes late. John stepped into the bus and sat down where he usually sat, next to a window. Just a few seconds after John sat down he got this strange feeling, as if he was missing something. John started thinking about what it was. What was it that he missed that morning? Did he forget something at home? Was it a meeting which he forgot to prepare for today? Then he suddenly realized what it was. Her smile! She wasn’t there!
John leaned against the seat in front of him, and looked around the bus. He couldn’t find her. John started wondering where she was. He leaned back and looked out the window while the bus started to move. John kept staring out the window at the buildings passing by. “Where is she?” John thought to himself. She used to sit just a few rows away from him. For 5 years John was used to seeing her every day when he stepped into the bus. She was always sitting there on her own, smiling at John as he stepped into the bus and walked to his seat. John always smiled back. He couldn’t resist. Even if he was having a bad day, or if he was angry at something, her smile always seemed to give him comfort. John always thought there was something strange about that. But she seemed such a nice and friendly old lady, and her smile was even friendlier. “That’s probably why she has so much influence on me,” John thought to himself.
For 5 years John had never spoken to her. The only way John communicated with her was through their smiles. He never felt the need to talk to her, and neither did she. When he stepped into the bus, she’d be there smiling at him, as if she was saying “Hi John, hope you’re having a nice day,” and John would smile back as a way of thanking her and wishing her a nice day as well.
As the bus stopped and other people got in, John was still staring out the window. He could clearly remember that day last year. It was a rainy day and John was soaking wet when the bus finally arrived. He had an important meeting later that day, and a lot of things just didn’t seem to go as planned. John was having a bad day, and everyone who knew him could easily see that on his face. But since John was usually a quiet person, he always kept his problems to himself and didn’t bother anyone with it. John was irritated, he was angry, and the weather only made it worse. When he stepped into the bus, there she was, smiling at him as usual. It was such a sweet and friendly smile. John could never describe the feeling it gave him, but he got a great deal of comfort from her smile. It was as if she understood his situation, and was saying “I know you’re having a bad day, but relax, you’ll see that it will get better during the day.” Since John was an optimistic guy, he liked her message. John nodded and smiled back while every trace of him having a bad day vanished from his face.
John realized that he never knew where she came from and where she was going to. She was always in the bus before John would get in, and John always got off before her. John was certain of that, because he was used to her smile when he got into the bus and when he stepped out. There was this one day John could remember, when he stepped into the bus, and he could feel from her smile that she was a bit sad that day. John looked at her from time to time and saw her looking at her purse which was torn a bit on one side. She often sighed deeply while she looked out the window. But even that day, she greeted John with a smile before he stepped out of the bus, and John nodded and smiled back. That really touched John, because John knew that even though she was likely not having such a good day, she still managed to smile at him like she always did. John could feel the sadness in her smile, but it still meant a lot to him.
While John thought of her, he wondered what she was like in person. “She probably is a really wonderful and friendly person when you get to know her,” John thought to himself. He started to regret that he never walked up to her and spoke to her when he had the chance and that he gets the need to talk to her now when she’s not there. John promised himself that he would walk up to her and talk to her the next time he saw her.
The bus stopped and it was time for John to get out of the bus. John stood up and looked around the bus again to see if he could find her. But she wasn’t there. John felt a bit sad and slowly walked to the door. Before he stepped out, he looked at her empty seat again. And while he could still see her smiling to him in his mind, John got out of the bus hoping he would see her again the next day.