Thursday, February 9, 2012
It was 9.10am.
"Are you waiting for the bus?" I asked.
"Yes, number four," he said. "I've been here about 25 minutes."
There is one bus that often runs late. It disgorges its kids after the bell at the primary school and I see high school kids getting more and more anxious waiting for it. I'd never seen this guy before, so surmised he was year 7. He was clearly worried.
So was I. The bus had never been this late before. I was thinking he'd manage to miss it.
I found myself in a dilemma. The mother in me wanted to put him in my car and drive him to school, taking the worried look off his face, and ensuring that he didn't stand at that bus stop all day.
But I was torn. The mother in me also didn't want to put him in the position of having to decide whether to accept a ride with a stranger. No matter how nice and well-meaning I was. Because the next stranger might not be so nice or well-meaning.
We stood and looked at each other. He wanted me to fix it for him, somehow. I wanted to fix it for him, somehow. But modern times have made it very bloody difficult to be charitable. Under normal circumstances, I would have whipped out my phone and rung his mum. But, of course, today of all days, I'd left my phone plugged into the wall, charging merrily, of no use to anyone.
"Do you live nearby?" I asked. He did. Around the corner.
"Maybe give it five more minutes and then pop home again," I said. I was relieved when he nodded, not saying 'oh, there's no-one there'. We looked at each other for another long moment before I smiled, wished him luck and walked away. Feeling like a heel.
I drove around the corner and was detoured by a policeman (thanks to an emergency situation), which brought me driving back around the block past my anxious little friend. I considered stopping and telling the policeman about him. What would I say? I kept driving. On the way back around, he saw me and gave me a little wave. I drove away. Feeling like a heel.
So tell me. Did I do the wrong thing? Should I have driven him to school to wipe the anxious look off his face? I kept thinking of Daniel Morcombe, who waited for a bus that never came. I wondered what I would have wanted for my own boys. Whom I have schooled over and over to never get in a car with a stranger. No matter how nice and well-meaning.
What would you have done?
[image: I love this illustration by NanLawson/etsy - sums up how we both felt]