Without my bike (flat tire), I had to choose – ride the bus the whole way to work, or drive the car. I chose to ride the bus. I have not walked the long walk from my house to the bus stop in months. I forgot how long it takes to walk that half mile, and so I missed the bus. Not by much, I was about a football field’s length away when the bus went flying by me and past my stop. I had thirty minutes until the next bus was scheduled to come by…
I could wait at this stop for that time, or start walking. I knew I wasn’t going to get to Union Hills in time to catch the bus I needed to be at work on time whether I walked or not. I started walking. I was up over the hill, and on my way down toward Thunderbird when I saw a dollar laying in the grass. I thought about the “Rascals” TV program where they would tie a string to a dollar and pull it away just as some passer by tried to pick it up. As I put the windfall cash in my pocket I thought about another Rascals moment – “I got a dollar, I got a dollar, I got a dollar, hey hey hey hey”. I kept walking.
After crossing T-bird, I decided to stop at the covered bus stop in the shade (its 7:45 am and already over 90 degrees). At the stop was a fifteen year old boy wearing VANS sneakers, baggie pants ready to fall off his hips, a skateboard and a cell phone. He was arguing with his mother:
“But WHY? You said I could go!” he paused for her response. “But I’m only a half mile away – what do you care, you are at work anyway”.
I knew he had to be talking about the skate park up the road. I’ve seen many kids take their skateboards and BMX bikes there over the last month or so. He hung the phone up and sat next to me at the bus stop and that’s when it happened – the door swings open:
“Moms are stupid!” he declared.
“Really – What makes you say that?”
“She said I could go to the park, and now she’s b*tching about it. What’s her problem! I’m going to go anyway.”
I struggled to know what to say next. Here’s this fifteen year old kid opening up to me. Most of the time the teenagers I met on the bus route are in packs, acting tough, being rude, and completely closed off to the world around them. But not now. I wouldn’t even be at this stop if my bike hadn’t broken down, and if I hadn’t missed the first bus this morning, and if I hadn’t decided to start walking. I really felt like God was opening a door for me to speak into this kid’s life. I prayed in that moment to be guided on what to say to make a lasting impact on this kid.
“I wouldn’t do that” I said.
He seemed like he actually cared what I thought about his disobedience to his mother. I wish I could tell you that I seized the moment here and spoke directly into this kid’s life. I wish I could tell you that after speaking with me, this young man called his mother back to apologize for being disrespectful. I cannot.
“How old are you?”
“My mom died several years ago.”
Why did I say that? What was I trying to do, guilt the kid? The old, what-if-your-mother-died-today-how-would-you-feel-then comment???
“I’m sorry, man” he actually sounded like he meant it.
“I used to put my mom through so much junk. You know, you mother does love you. I used to hate when people said when you get older but here I am saying it to you – when you get older you will understand more about why your mom did the things you thought were stupid.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I just gave him the when-I-was-your-age-when-you-get-older speech? Just shoot me now! The bus came. The kid got on the bus just as I did. He sat in the back. I sat in the front. I got off at Union Hills to catch my transfer, he got off at Union Hills and headed for the skate park.