A little girl had no money to get on Jeffrey’s bus, so he turned her away. When he got home, he saw her picture on Facebook and was shocked senseless by what he discovered.
“No, little girl. You can’t get in without the money. Please get out because I really needed to get going,” Jeffrey, the bus driver, told a little girl who wanted to get on the bus but only had a few pennies to her name. She must have been around seven years old, and he wasn’t in the mood to deal with unaccompanied children that day. None of the other passengers paid them any mind.
“Please, sir. I want to visit my grandmother,” the little girl begged.
“Then go ask your parents for the money and come back next time,” Jeffrey replied and gestured with his hand for the girl to get out. She finally listened to him and left the bus with her shoulders slumped. Jeffrey saw her sit down at the bus stop and drove off.
“Dear God. What have I done?” he asked himself.
He finished his route and went home for the night, greeting his wife, Greta, and sitting down on the couch to rest. He placed his feet on the coffee table, turned on the TV, and got his cellphone out. It was time to browse through social media mindlessly.
His Facebook was filled with funny posts, updates on his family, and more. But one of his groups had shared an image that made him pause.
The group would often share news from their hometown in Maryland, and that day, a picture was shared of the little girl he had just turned away a few hours earlier. The word “Missing” was written on top of the image. He read further and learned that the girl had disappeared a day ago, and her parents were distraught trying to find her.
Jeffrey’s back went cold. This girl was missing, and he had just kicked her out of the bus. “Dear God. What have I done?” he asked himself, standing up and going to the front door where he left his shoes, putting them on hastily.
“Where are you going?” Greta asked, coming out of the kitchen and wiping her hands on the dishtowel.
“Greta! Quick! Call 911 and this number,” Jeffrey said, showing her the picture of the girl with his phone. “I saw this girl at a bus stop earlier, and I turned her away because she didn’t have enough money. I’m going to find her, but please make those calls.”
“Jesus! Ok, what bus stop exactly?” she asked, and he explained where he had seen her. Greta would stay home and call the authorities, plus the girl’s parents.
Jeffrey rushed to his car, started the engine, and almost flew out of his house, speeding to the bus stop. Hopefully, the girl was smart enough to stay in one place. He couldn’t believe how careless he had been earlier. She was a little girl all alone. Of course, something was wrong!
As he drove frantically to the bus stop, Jeffrey vowed to be more careful in the future, especially when it came to children. Finally, he got closer and saw a tiny silhouette sitting on the bench right where he had left her.
“Thank God!” he breathed to himself, parking right in front of her and getting out. “Girl, you’re still here! Thank heavens!”
“Yes, sir. No other drivers let me on the bus,” the little girl replied from her spot on the bench, swinging one of her feet and looking at the concrete floor.
Jeffrey took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, and decided to talk to her gently. “What’s your name?”
“Sarah,” she responded. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“That’s right. But I promise I won’t get close to you. Tell me, Sarah. Did you know that your parents are desperately looking for you?”
“They are? Well… I…,” the little girl trailed off.
“Did you escape from home? Where were you going?” Jeffrey continued to ask.
“I was going to Grandma’s house. My mom wouldn’t let me go, but I wanted to see Gram,” Sarah answered, pursing her tiny lips. Jeffrey smiled. At least, she didn’t run away for real.
“Your folks are searching for you, and they’ll be here soon, hopefully. I’m going to stay until they come. Alright?” he assured her, and the little girl gave him a small smile. “You really should have brought money, though.”
Sarah laughed aloud, and Jeffrey was delighted to hear such a sound.
A few minutes later, the police and another car approached them. A woman got out of the vehicle and rushed toward Sarah. The little girl got up and ran to her, yelling, “Mommy!”
The police officers approached Jeffrey and asked him about his wife’s call. He told them the entire story and how he regretted not letting her on the bus, so he came to find her. Sarah’s parents thanked him for making those calls, and he felt like a small-town hero for the first time in his life.
From then on, Jeffrey helped anyone short on cash that got on his bus, and he always watched out for the kids that were alone. Many children were too independent, but they needed someone looking out for them, and he was the right man for the job.
What can we learn from this story?
- Make up for your mistakes as soon as you can. When Jeffrey saw the image online, he realized what he had done wrong and rushed to make things right. He saved a little girl thanks to his quick actions.
- Watch out for any child alone on the streets. While some parents allow their kids to be more independent, you can keep an eye out for them just in case. You can also help them out if you sense danger.