As I ran to catch the bus one morning, I knew I was in for a weird day. ‘My life cannot get any worse than this right now,’ I thought to myself as I trudged up Fraser St. in my heavy Dr. Marten boots. A normal morning for me usually means waking up at 11, not sprinting to catch the Red Link at 8.
After what felt like an uphill race on Fraser, I finally got on the bus. I sat down huffing, puffing and red faced. I was desperately trying to regain my composure, as I looked down at my phone. I was too embarrassed to look any of my fellow bus riders in the eye. Especially after they just watched me run a one person marathon to the bus.
While I was in my seat pretending to text people (but really scrolling through Twitter and Instagram) I thought to myself, “I really wish I had a friend to laugh this awful situation off with.” But I didn’t, so I just minded my own business.
Once I recovered from my embarrassment, I worked up the nerve to look around the bus. I realized no one was sitting next to each other. I was almost positive every person on the bus was absorbed in their phones, just like I was before. And the bus just continued in silence.
As the bus traveled closer to Innovation Park on Penn State’s campus, where my class is located, we made a stop at Mount Nittany Medical Center. I figured mostly nurses would be boarding the bus, but then again I was having a strange start to my day.
A middle-aged woman stepped on the bus in a pink and fuzzy onesie, complete with slippers, a hood and brightly colored butterflies for decoration. She took a seat directly across from me.
I looked at her “different” choice of clothing and decided I was going to take a Snapchat. “All of my friends will enjoy this,” I thought to myself. And right when I was poised to take the photo, she spoke to me.
“I love your shoes,” she said with a smile.
That weird morning on the bus, I almost used the only person who was kind to me as a punch line for a joke. I had judged her based on her appearance, and instead of saying hello I almost snapped a picture.
But, I didn’t. I smiled and thanked this woman dressed in pajamas, because out of all the “normal” people on that bus, she was the only one to show me a simple act of kindness.
That interaction made me think. Now, I believe we owe it to each other to stop judging each other based on looks. I believe we need to dig for more than first impressions and get to know one another. I believe that if everyone took just one more second to learn about someone, the world would be a much friendlier place.
Meredith Manning is a junior at Penn State University Park. She is majoring in broadcast journalism and hopes to become a TV journalist after she graduates.