Driving On The Road Not Taken

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops; a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!” and sat down at the back.

Did I mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn’t argue with Big John, but he wasn’t happy about it.

The next day the same thing happened-Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one
after that, and so forth.

This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him.

Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff. By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what’s more, he felt really good about himself.

So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!,” the driver stood
up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, “And why not?”

With a surprised look on his face, he replied, “Big John has a bus pass.”

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source: some story from a forwarded mail

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My addition to the story:

That evening the driver turned in the keys after duty and started his daily walk towards his home. This evening the streets seemed to be a little emptier than usual. He was walking down a dimly lit alley, silence broken only by his footsteps. As he walked on, he could hear another set of footsteps behind him. He stepped up his pace and so did the other. He felt some kind of uneasiness, but there was a brightly lit busy street ahead, and safety was a reassuring few minutes away.

The other pair of footsteps was almost behind him and he stepped aside waiting for the person to pass on. But the other footsteps had stopped too. The driver turned around and found himself looking straight into the eyes of a burly man.

The man said gruffly hand over your money, mate. The driver could only blink in mute surprise. He had lived for years in this city and had only read of such incidents happening to somebody else somewhere else, and had never been in one before. He stammered “Look I’m a poor man with a family to support”. The man pulled out a knife from his pocket, and rephrased his statement. “Your money, your watch, everything. Cmon quick! Right now!”

Thoughts of his family flashed through the driver’s mind in an instant. His wife Mary would be waiting for him to get home. What would she ever be able to face it if he were to get killed here by some irrational imbecile? What about his young college-going daughter? He looked around and the thug grimly reminded him There’s nobody around here to help you. Nobody! You have no choice The driver
could see the point. They were hidden in the shadows, and the busy street in the distance was far too noisy for anybody to hear him. He slowly started retrieving his wallet, and it suddenly occurred to him that there was no guarantee that the thug would leave him after fleecing him.

The driver paused, tentatively stepping backward. The thug said Don’t fool around and raised his knife menacingly. Another step backward. The thug said with an angry voice I really mean it don’t fool around Another step backward.

The thug lunged forward with the knife aimed at the driver’s stomach. The driver deftly taking a huge stride backward, grabbed the thug’s wrist, and twisting it into a very uncomfortable angle, pulled it downwards taking the thug off balance. The knife clattered on to the floor while the man was propelled forward by his own momentum. He landed heavily on his stomach, and the driver still holding on to the wrist swiftly knelt down beside his shoulder and twisted his arm around, holding him down in a pin. It was all over in a second.

The thug found it hard to digest this sudden turn of events. The driver was surprised himself; he never knew that he would ever apply what he had learnt in his martial arts classes. He spoke Now I could fracture your arm, or hand you over to the police, or both. The thug tried to suddenly spring up on his legs, and yelled in pain. He tried to bring his free arm around but it was out of reach to do anything useful. He found that the only way to avoid the electrifying pain shooting through his entire being whenever he struggled, was to stop struggling and stay still, which he eventually did. The driver having waited patiently for him to figure this out, then asked Agreed? The thug perspiring now, squirmed uncomfortably. The driver momentarily leaned forward only by an inch, and the thug yelled again, and nodded helplessly.

The driver was still for a few moments, then took a deep breath, and got up releasing the man. He walked to the knife, picked it up and slipped it into his pocket while behind him, the bewildered thug slowly and warily staggered to his feet, rubbing his aching shoulder. The aching stopped soon enough, but there was a strange warm sensation throughout his arm as if it had suddenly become more alive than it had been all his life.

The driver asked him “What’s your name?” The thug was starting to step backwards, and hesitated. The driver turned around to face him and repeated his question. The thug wanted to flee but something at the back of his mind reassured him that this man was harmless. He stood his ground and answered “Ronnie”. The driver asked “Can you drive?” Ronnie replied in a puzzled voice “Er yeah” The driver said “We’re looking for drivers. Come to the main office of The Bus Company tomorrow at 10 AM and ask for me, I’m Vishwa”, and started walking towards his home. After a few steps back he turned back and added “…and don’t forget to shave!”

When the driver reached his home he was greeted by Mary. “Hey how was your day?”

“Oh not too bad. Can you get me a cup of tea”

Then over some tea and biscuits, he narrated the incident to her. She was shocked at first, and very concerned “Are you hurt? Did he stab you?!” He reassured her that he hadn’t had a scratch, and when he continued to explain that he had let him go she was not very impressed and angrily said “What if he goes attacks and even kills somebody else? Hes a killer!”

“People dont stay the same forever, you know. You’ve changed so much since I knew you! Youve seen me change too, right??”

“But what if he attacks our own daughter tomorrow? And before he changes, if at all he does!”

“Oh, don’t worry about her, I’ve taught her everything I know.”

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about” she couldn’t help joking, and smiled and felt more relaxed.

“Ha!” he retorted and added “She can take care of herself.”

“Well but…”

“Look, I just took a gamble, ok?”

“A gamble?”

“Yeah a gamble It might work out, or might not.”

“I thought you didn’t like gambling!”

“Well casinos are different. But didn’t we both take a gamble by marrying each other?” he smiled with a wink and they both laughed. He added more seriously… “Look its not every day that I get mugged â and it was kind of an on the spot decision. Basically when I looked at him, my heart told me that he was actually a good man gone the wrong way. And you know my heart is never wrong.’

“Except every now and then”, she murmured.

He added “And anyway he wouldn’t have been able to touch me with my new improved reflex… wha…” and ducked as a pillow flew past barely missing his head.

“Just testing your reflexes” she explained.

“See see!” he said exhultantly “nothing he could’ve done… oomph!!” and collapsed backwards into a chair as a second pillow got him square in his midriff.

When he caught his breath he said you just got lucky. She replied you should be lucky I hadn’t aimed any lower! He grumbled something incoherently and was immediately glad she hadn’t heard it. He threw the pillow back at her which she deftly caught and restored it to its original position.

Later that night when they were about to sleep, she asked You really think he’ll come tomorrow to your office?

He replied sleepily “Who knows, lets see when tomorrow comes”, and fell asleep.

Twenty years passed.

Vishwa left his workplace one last time in his last job, it was the day of his retirement. Mary greeted him enthusiastically at home “Hey did you give a speech and all?”|

“Oh yeah yeah” he replied and sunk heavily into his favorite arm chair.

“What’s up you don’t look too happy? We have all the time in the world now we can do anything we like! I’ve already started packing our bags for that Himalayan
expedition to start with!”

“Well I suppose I should be. Somehow, I feel uneasy, when I think about what I can do next. You know I’ve been so busy all these years, and now life looks so er… empty!”

Mary nodded understandingly. After a while she added “You know, I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you and had a wife like me”

“Huh?”

“I’ve got a surprise for you” she said with an enigmatic smile take a guess!

“Ok ok get it over with“

She ignored his grouchiness and continued “You know the school where I take piano classes. I was speaking to the supervisor about you the other day. She said she would
appreciate it greatly if someone could teach them some physical disciplinary sports.”

“Maybe martial arts or something?” he asked hopefully.

“Martial arts or something” she replied with a twinkle in her eyes.

He let out a whoop of delight and dragged her out of the house “C’mon lets catch up with that candlelight dinner we’ve been planning for ages!”

Over the next few weeks, Vishwa had become used to his new routine. One evening he stepped out of the school at closing time, and Mary joined him. They started towards the school exit on their usual walk homewards.

They paused outside on the street to wave goodbye to the kids who were boarding the schoolbus. The bus driver was a jovial man, asking puzzles and telling jokes and making the kids laugh in delight as they all boarded the bus. When the last one was in, he noticed Vishwa watching in the distance, and waved to him and started the bus. Vishwa waved back, and as the bus disappeared around the corner, he asked Mary Did you see the driver?

“Yes I did, why?”

“You remember long ago the one and only time I had ever been assaulted?”

“Umm. Yeah. So?”

He said nothing, and they continued walking speechlessly.

“After a while, she murmured The same man?”

“The very same”

“Incredible.”

One Response to “Driving On The Road Not Taken”

  1. Bhuvaneswaran Says:

    Really nice, nice change and good moral in the story. Good creativity.

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