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North London bus driver restores faith in human nature – TfL give that man a rise

Posted on 27 January 2012 | 8:01am

I hope someone at Transport for London is reading. I hope said TfL person, on reading to the end, will take a few minutes to try to find the person I am writing about, and reward him in some way.

Yes, it’s one of those ‘restores your faith in human nature’ times.

The person in question is a bus driver who was last night working the C11 route in North London, which Fiona’s mother, who had been here to celebrate her birthday, uses to get home.

On getting off the bus she realised she didn’t have her handbag. So no purse, no keys, no credit cards, all now off for for the rest of the C11 ride. Not a very happy birthday.

She cancelled the cards, came back to our house to get keys, and wrote off the rest. Meanwhile Fiona started to fill in the TfL lost property forms online. Then they decided – hope springing eternal – to drive the route, find where the bus ended its journey, and see if they could find the actual bus she had left the bag on. Slim chance … but then …

Audrey got a phone call, from a friend, saying that someone had just called her and if she was at the Archway bus stop at 10pm, she would have her handbag delivered to her.

That call was from the bus driver. He had seen the bag in a break between journeys, taken possession of it, and once he got to the end of the route, called the first number he could find inside her little address book. So instead of spending the end of her birthday feeling stressed and angry at herself for losing her bag, and facing a day sorting out all the consequences, thanks to the bus driver, all ended well.

On Wednesday, The Independent had a poll saying that people trusted and believed each other less than ever. In The Happy Depressive, I have quoted surveys confirming that people’s happiness has been matched by a decline in the belief that when we leave our own homes to venture outside, people will be nice to us.

So like I say … faith in human nature can be quickly restored. As for TfL, Fiona said she thought the driver was of Eastern European background, seemed embarrassed by their gratitude and was just a thoroughly nice man.

  • http://twitter.com/tomstronach Tom Stronach

    if only those in politics, could engender the same level of faith, the country would be on a winning streak..

  • Hyde

    Sometimes going to get a disciplinary for not following lost property procedures…

  • Kat_ali_oop

    Excellent – as a serial forgetter and loser of purses, I have had more good than bad experiences! Humans can indeed be kind, co-operative and, well, good.

  • Curranhung

    Do you suppose this bus driver will get a bonus?

  • Sarah

    You can report good deeds somewhere on the tfl bus website. With the route and time they should be able to track him down. Good luck. Meantime i may share this with my friend who has set up a fb page Random Acts of Kindness on Public Transport. To counter the reaction caused by the woman on the croyden tram.

  • Chris

    (a) Will this poor man now face some form of internal enquiry for (probably) not following proper procedures? Corporate bodies (public AND private) are strange beasts!

    (b) For 20 years I always drove my mother-in-law home at the end of her visits to us, at any time of day, let alone a late evening in London.

  • http://www.libroediting.com/ Liz

    What a lovely story! I do hear about lovely things like that quite often and it does restore one’s faith, doesn’t it!

  • Michele

    Perhaps Fiona’s Mum is someone that still believes in ‘Reclaim the Night’ (not to mention that you seem to have speculated a lot  rather than asking actual questions).

  • Robert Higson

    Great story, Alastair. How bizarre though – I have a similar story also involving the C11. 

    I was on my way from Kilburn to apply for a job in Highgate. I had to hand in my CV and application form on the dot at 11.30am at the place I was applying for. 

    I stepped off the C11 at 11.20am as it made its way through Highgate and horror struck as I realised I’d left all my documents on the bus seat as it sped off into the distance.

    I legged it to try and catch it as it stopped at traffic lights further down the route. No luck. No traffic. Despair. I’d spent about two hours on these forms as well. Gutted.

    Then an unassuming pizza delivery motorbike driver from one of the pizza shops in the high street who was stood outside his shop saw you frantically running down the road.

    “What’s wrong, my friend?” he asked. “I’ve left important documents on that bus [pointing down the road]!”.

    “OK. Is that the C11?”

    “Yes.”

    “The one that ends up in Archway?”

    “Yes”.

    “Right.”

    Then he shut his visor/helmet, got on his bike and sped off after the bus!

    15 minutes later he returned, papers in hand. I couldn’t believe it and was so overwhelmed by his generosity. By now, I was a complete panicky mess. 

    I offered to give him some money for petrol and he wouldn’t hear any of it. I offered to buy him a coffee to say thanks, but he just said “Don’t worry my friend”. I don’t think I even realised how generous he had been. 

    So there you go. Good things do happen despite all the doom and gloom. I was working in Parliament at the time so a couple of days later I sent him a gift and a card from there with my email address written inside. 

    He emailed back a few weeks later to say thanks (and also apologise. They’d delivered the card to the pizza shop next door by mistake!)

    Funny old world isn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Duncan-Phipp-macintyre/525048347 Duncan Phipp-macintyre

    Excellent. We need to celebrate goodness when we stumble on it. My wife is always cajoling me to be positive for once and not so negative – note to self here. Freezing today, spring may yet return some day and the shadows may lift.

  • Anonymous

    Great story, as is Alastairs.

    I feel good about all the tips I’ve given pizza delivery guys over the years now!

    Nice to see all the examples here of people who will help a stranger without thinking about money.

  • Sams_rhythm

    I hope someone has filled in TFL’s online feedback form. I think that is the best way to ensure that stars like this get the reward they deserve. 

  • Anonymous

    I left my iPhone on the bus.  When I got to the office I put a stop on the phone.  Then I decided, strangely, to check my personal emails remotely from the office computer.  There in my inbox was an email from the person who had just rescued my phone, with his mobile number.  I was reunited with my phone in an hour.  The guy who found it told me he would like to think someone would have done the same for him.
    Of course, had I been cautious enough to put a password on my phone he would never have discovered my email address.  I suppose it would have been turned over to lost property, which also works, but takes a lot longer!

  • Sams_rhythm

    I hope someone has filled in TFL’s online feedback form. I think that is the best way to ensure that stars like this get the reward they deserve.

    Bankers make sure that their contracts reward their good performance (even bad performance). Bus drivers probably don’t benefit from such good lawyers and accountants.

  • ambrosian

    May I add some words in praise of our much-maligned youth? Most of the young men who work in my local supermarkets are what many would dismiss as ‘chavs’ – working-class and not particularly well-educated. You might cross the road to avoid them if you saw them off-duty. Yet they are mostly far more friendly and helpful than the older members of staff, always greeting the regulars and ready for a chat and a joke. And I like the fact they call me ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’, even though I’m old enough to be their grandfather.

    The other day I saw one of these boys helping an old lady to her car with her shopping, or at least trying to because every time he laid hands on the trolley she pushed him away. Undeterred, he walked 50 yards to her car and tried, again unsuccessfully, to help her load her shopping into the car. It was a real-life comedy sketch: the aggressively independent old woman and the contra-stereotypical and caring youth fighting it out over the shopping trolley. I sometimes think it’s small things like that which make life worth living.

  • ambrosian

    May I add some words in praise of our much-maligned youth? Most of the young men who work in my local supermarkets are what many would dismiss as ‘chavs’ – working-class and not particularly well-educated. You might cross the road to avoid them if you saw them off-duty. Yet they are mostly far more friendly and helpful than the older members of staff, always greeting the regulars and ready for a chat and a joke. And I like the fact they call me ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’, even though I’m old enough to be their grandfather.

    The other day I saw one of these boys helping an old lady to her car with her shopping, or at least trying to because every time he laid hands on the trolley she pushed him away. Undeterred, he walked 50 yards to her car and tried, again unsuccessfully, to help her load her shopping into the car. It was a real-life comedy sketch: the aggressively independent old woman and the contra-stereotypical and caring youth fighting it out over the shopping trolley. I sometimes think it’s small things like that which make life worth living.

  • Ehtch

    Excellent fella. He is obviously a top bloke. You’ll have to put him on your christmas card list. These things restore your faith in humanity, which at times is desperately needed.

  • Ehtch

    My daughter, Siân, the one who is a top notch waitress in the Reigate/Redhill area, earning stacks of cash with tips and things, serve wotshiname from The Inbetweeners and his family the other day. My daughter will go far – I predict she will be well coiney when she gets older, she has the ideas where to go to coin. Pride is not the word. Obviously got a bit of me in her, well obviously.

  • Ehtch

    Been gargling for most of yesterday and start of today about this what to say, but might as well come out with it. A Scarlets rugger player had a heart attack in training yesterday, only 29, fell down and turned a strange grey colour. All the best to you Rhys – heart op went well and succesful with him I have heard. To say it has twisted my gyroscope of life would be a total and an utter understatement. Op seems to have been successful, thankfully.

    Get well Rhys Thomas.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/16763282.stm

  • Dave Simons

    I’m sure everyone on this blog, no matter what their political persuasion, would do the same as the East European bus driver and the pizza-selling motorcyclist, so let’s give ourselves discreet pats on our backs and be grateful for all the other folk around who would do the same and not even mention it to anyone, let alone ask for any kind of reward.

  • Ehtch

    Makes me feel ashamed now to accept five quid petrol money when I returned a mobile phone to it’s owner at a motorway service station where we agreed to meet when I found it on a top of a hill in a country park a few years ago. But I do live in the sticks, and the motorway service station was out of my way. Anyway, she didn’t even give me a kiss, the sexy devil. Ah well, such is life!

  • Dave Simons

    I wouldn’t feel ashamed of accepting five quid in those circumstances. As for Ambrosian’s story of the young man at the supermarket, I’ve had exactly the same experience with an ‘aggressively independent old woman’ in a different context – a public library – where someone who obviously needed help was very rude to the person who offered help.

  • http://www.libroediting.com/ Liz

    Here’s another example of niceness: I was on the way to a friend’s house to drop off some flowers as she’d been in hospital as a group of us had an impromptu collection for her (that’s not the nice bit, though). The bus was coming down the road and a man was running for it, as I thought. I motioned to him to slow down as the bus was a bit behind him, but still he came running. I had dropped my scarf as I walked down the road, and he’d taken the trouble to run after me so he could get it to me before I got on the bus.

  • http://www.jimdriver.com/ Jim Driver

    I find that bus drivers are generally a helpful lot, though I would imagine that their good-will is worn down on a daily basis by exposure to the great British public.
    For example, I rarely see anyone thank the driver when he (or she) re-opens the doors when about to leave the bus stop. Usually they get a scowl or worse for their trouble. How many times do they go through the process before deciding that being nice to people is just not worth the effort?

  • Von.

    Bus driving in london must be hell…please, when you click your card,say thankyou to the driver, ..costs nothing..