THE EX-SERVICE MAN. A GOOD MAN
By Alister Fuller
Dt. 2nd January 2018.
As a bus driver in Melbourne I get to experience these unique situations and encounters with some amazing people. This is one such true story.
I pulled up at the last stop at Ringwood station and waited for people to get off before I close the doors so I can take a short toilet break. However before I could close the rear door a man got in. I noticed through the corner of my eye that he bent down to pick something off the floor. I commented "did you find some gold" he replied “I found a $1 coin”. I said "wow, today is your lucky day you should buy a lottery ticket" he replied "no way I need to buy food, I have no money and I get paid only on Thursday". This day was Tuesday 2nd January 2018. His reply intrigued me. Now usually I would go to the toilet before I head out on my next trip. I told myself, that has to wait, I need to listen to this man’s story. So I went to the back of the bus and sat opposite him. He was a bit surprised that I sat near him. I said “I want to hear your story” he acknowledged. He said that he was a veteran in the Navy. (in Oz a veteran means an ex-service man) . He said that he is on his way to the hospital to see his father and ask him for money. (His father was a patient and admitted to hospital just before Christmas). I probed a bit more as to why he needs money. He said that he got his pension before Christmas and because of the festive season he had spent all his money and he barely had a decent meal for a few days now. I felt very sorry for him as he seemed genuine.
Now, I play in a band and on new years eve we had a gig and we got paid $400. So I did have a few green notes in my wallet.
I told him "if I give you some money what will you do with it" he replied "I will buy food, I have no food" I said “you will not spend it on booze will you” he said “ absolutely not”.
This situation was hard to take for me. Because this season is a season of plenty, a season to be jolly and here we have an ex-service man who has served this country well for many years and he finds himself in this difficult situation with no food. In Australia nobody should be in this position especially an ex-soldier.
So I gave him a green note. He choked up and his eyes began to look glassy, he looked at it and said “I have never seen one of these for many years. Are you sure about it” I said jokingly “it’s all good with me but if you don’t want it I can take it back” he said "thanks, nobody has ever done this for me, ever, let alone a bus driver. Today is my lucky day” I replied “NO today is my lucky day, because how often do I get a chance to help someone in need, very rare for sure” I continued “I play in a band and I got paid just two days ago and I have some that I can afford to give away”. He kept looking at the green note and was lost for words. He was silent for a brief moment which seemed an eternity.
However what he told me next brought a tear to my eyes. He said “well now I can visit my father in hospital and NOT ask him for money” Wow, that comment made me realize he is truly a gentleman and a good man.
My time was up and I missed my toilet break. I got back into the driver seat and started my trip. When we reached the hospital bus stop, he again thanked me profusely and he asked me my name and background. I told him my name and that I was an Indian. He immediately identified me as an Anglo-Indian. I was totally surprised with that answer and I asked him how did he know that. His reply was that he traveled the world in the Navy and he was stationed in Singapore and there were many Anglo Indians there. I said WOW that was the first time someone called me an Anglo Indian. Then he left. He was certainly Intelligent too. I was glad that I had the opportunity to help a genuine human being in need.