A couple of weeks ago, I was on bus #205 when an elderly man got on at the Chicago Avenue Jewel grocery store. Upon his arrival, Evanston Township High School students on the bus clapped and sent out a loud chorus of “Yays”. The man seemed to ignore this impromptu cheering squad, but I did not. I wondered if the man misinterpreted the students’ cheers and thought they were just young folks giving an “it’s-about-time” commentary on his being an older citizen who finally made it onto the bus; although I later found out that this was not the reason.

When I caught this #205 in downtown Evanston, it was full of ETHS students coming from school. I stood at the back door since most of the seats were taken, although I did notice one student move over to make an aisle seat available. The noise level was high, as the students laughed and talked with each other across the aisles and back and forth from one section of the bus to another.

The #205 paused at Jewel, and then slowly pulled off, at which time the students let out a chorus of moans, “Awwwww!” The bus driver inched the bus past the Jewel driveway entrance and stopped. I could not see why the students had moaned or why the bus had stopped but, in retrospect, I guess it was because the students had seen an elderly man step out to catch the bus as it was pulling away.

The man stopped in his tracks when the bus began pull off, probably thinking that the bus had stopped for traffic, not for him. After a few seconds, I guess the man decided that the bus might have stopped for him and started walking toward it. I heard some of the students encouraging the man by softly pleading, “Come on. … Come on!” Of course, the windows on the bus do not open, so the man could not hear the students’ pleas.

Shortly after, I saw the man go by, walking toward the front of the bus. The moment he stepped onto the bus and put his packages down, the students clapped and cheered.

However, the cheers were not for a senior citizen finally getting on the bus; they were for the man succeeding in catching the bus, and the students’ own interest in the success of his catching the bus.

These students had shown a small – but impressive – display of caring about the welfare of others. Had the students not moaned when they saw the man appear to miss the bus, the bus driver might not have stopped for the man.

Thank you, ETHS students, for your humanitarianism and confirmation of my belief in the compassion of our youth, when given a chance.

I cannot thank you enough for making that day on the #205 such a pleasant experience.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...