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‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’

February 15, 2009

In that small surreal moment I was unsure whether to laugh cry or run from the bus screaming.

HERE SAT NEXT to me was a man pushing seventy chatting me up and telling me what a lovely personality I had, all because I let him sit next to me, every so often he took my face in his two hands and kissed my cheek.   
The man had informed me he was from America although he had no accent except the faint hint of Indian origin, seeing the huge queue outside the bus I automatically moved my bags onto my lap, I was sat near the front and expected really that someone would want a seat. Little did i realise the turmoil this small action would bring with it.

The man whose name was Ali got on the bus, slow faltering steps causing an impatient passenger behind him to complain loudly. ‘That’s a bit rude,’ I thought as he skirted round the man and pushed on towards the back of the bus.

“Is this seat taken?” asked the man. I gestured that it was not and he could sit there if he wished he sat down, so close to me that I thought he might as well have sat on my lap, but my shopping was there, so he could not. He was old so I expected the small talk chit-chat that so many old folks on buses seemed obliged to offer. “Thanks” and “Nice day” and “Where are you off to?”  That’s normally where it stopped and you were free to quietly gaze out of the window and ignore them for the rest of the trip, boy was I wrong! 

Sitting for all of two seconds I breathed in the familiar old person smell of ancient aftershave and cat and wondered if I should put my Ipod on.

The first time took me by suprise he was busily telling me in a small voice that I was a kind person, had a kind face and that I was kind enough to let him sit next to me. ‘A bit over the top,’ I though as I uttered a nervous laugh and appreciative smile.
“Have you got any children?” he said. ‘What on earth?’ I though! I told him i hadn’t, I was only 22 i’m too young.

That was when it happened.

He put bot hands on the side of my face and wrenched my head towards him and kissed me on the cheek like a grandfather would, the only difference being this was not my grandfather! I’d known this man all of three minutes, I wondered whether he did this to all young people he found on buses. A little put out I excused him for being old and not realising any better.
He then told me that he often went into Newcastle and it was nice to meet me and he hoped he would see me again. Could this really be happening? Was i really sat on a bus in front of about twenty people watching this man chat me up and continually kiss me on the cheek. A silent prayer of “Why me God? Why is he sat next to me? There has to be a reason,” left my head unconsciously scooting towards the heavens. 
I silently hoped he would get off the bus before me, I decided in my head, even if i had to get off in Stoke – five stops after mine- I was not getting off at the same stop. My hopes were answered as he pressed the bell at the stop before mine and pulled himself up from his seat. “Nice to meet you,” he said yet again and shuffled slowly towards the door, painfully slowly.

Another passenger got off the bus at this point and the driver had not seen Ali get up and move towards the door. He stepped on the gas and Ali went flying into an old woman  who was sat in the OAP reserved spaces.
Half the bus seemed to get up and help him, I however could not, the most I could do was ring the bell a few times to make sure the bus stopped again.

I wondered on the way home what it had meant? Why me? If i had only got on the 25 or the 23 instead of walking past both buses to get to the 21 which went to the same destination. If it hadnt of been pouring down outside I may have decided to do more shopping instead of going straight to Iceland for shopping. If i had left a few minutes earlier from my workshop at uni or a few minutes later the whole scenario would have been avoided… 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13 vs 12

Perhaps Hebrews 13 had it right, I haven’t seen him since so maybe he was some kind of eccentric angel.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy permalink
    February 17, 2009 6:23 am

    You will never know the impact you had on that elderly gentlemans life. A smile costs nothing so pass it on !!!!

  2. April 22, 2010 8:06 pm

    What a beautiful story! He was right–you were a nice person to him. There’s no way of saying what was going on his life, but you made a difference & brightened his day. And, he gave you something also: a beautiful story upon which to reflect and learn from.

    Your story is quite similiar to mine in Thank you for your lovely comment. I had not thought of this verse until you shared this story with me. Perhaps you are right–maybe my homeless lady was also an “angel”. I know she taught me something that day!

    The Lord works in mysterious ways! He can teach us so much through an eccentric older gentleman or through a homeless woman. That is the beauty of the God we serve.

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