As I’ve mentioned previously, even the most mundane things can trigger all sorts of feelings. I was on a bus recently. I’ve always been afraid of either missing my stop or pushing the signal too early for my stop. When I was about 4, my mother let me push the signal. You know how kids like to push elevator buttons, ring bells, that sort of thing? But I pushed it too early for our stop. My mother insisted on getting off at that stop and pushed my brother’s stroller home, telling me she was tired and blaming me for having to walk so far. The few times as an adult when I wasn’t familiar with a route and pushed the bell too early, I got off and walked. I didn’t even occur to me to say, “sorry, I meant the next stop.”
On the recent trip, someone rang the bell too soon. He said “sorry, I meant the next stop.” Of course, I’d seen other people do it before this particular bus trip, but it finally hit me! It’s a normal, human mistake to occasionally ring the bus signal too early. Normal people say, “sorry, I meant the next stop” or something along those lines. As the bus driver said, “no problem” and drove to the next stop, I realized I’d never seen a driver get angry with a passenger for ringing the signal too early. Except in high school when some kids were doing it to be obnoxious. The most extreme reaction other than that I’d ever seen was a driver sigh or roll his eyes. And even then, only if traffic was bad and/or he was trying to make a connection at a transfer point.
Shortly after that, I noticed another too early bus signal. She actually asked, “Isn’t this [street name]?” She actually doubted the bus driver and where we were before she doubted herself! When she realized she was in error, she apologized to the driver and he basically said “no worries.”
Now, I’d remembered this before. Mostly the few times I pushed the signal too early or if I was afraid of doing so. But I’d always remembered it as me being a 4 year old F**k up who couldn’t push the bell at the right time and made the family have to schlep extra blocks. And I’m not kidding/exaggerating when I say that. I thought I did something wrong or bad by pushing that bell too early and made things harder on my mother/brother. Although he was sitting in a stroller, so I’m not sure how I made things harder for him.
The more recent recall of it was different. For the first time, I realized her reaction was out of proportion and felt anger at her. WTF is wrong with just saying, “sorry, we meant the next stop”? Or even just asking me to say so? And I felt sorry for the 4 year old who wasn’t allowed to make a mistake and wasn’t shown how mistakes are corrected. Though to be fair, my mother’s childhood was so messed up, she probably wasn’t shown it’s ok how to make mistakes and how to address them. If it were that one incident, I don’t think it would be that much of a big deal, but there’s a whole series of them. No wonder I’m so anxious about doing the wrong thing. I couldn’t even ring the bus signal at 4 without being blamed because I screwed it up. It felt good to be angry about it instead of beating myself up for messing up something when I was 4.
All’s I know is next time I’m on an unfamiliar route, if I ring the signal too early, I’m going to apologize and see if the driver will let me off at the next stop!