Often times, people react to situations without taking the time to contemplate the circumstance as a neutral bystander, stepping outside of the situation. In order to feel more positive emotions and thoughts, one must strive to understand the different perspective of another person and their particular situation, identity, and motives.
This morning, I walked onto the Metro Transit to get to my class. My heart skipped a beat as the bus driver said, "You need to pay two dollars as fare for the bus." I thought it was free, and I knew I had no singles in my wallet, but I didn't want to walk twenty five minutes to my class in the freezing cold. I told the man I didn't have two dollars and could tell he was furious. I could see his body start to clench up and passengers navigating their gaze towards us to get a good look at all the commotion: gazing from the bus driver whose face was burning up and eyebrows beginning to slant, and then to me, whose face was white as a ghost, and posture slouched over in embarrassment. All I could think was, "Why is this man throwing such a fit? It's only two dollars! He can survive!" The bus driver surprisingly ended up letting me stay on the bus but made sure to get the last word in saying, "You must pay me the second you get on this bus again." You're probably thinking: Why is she sharing this story? Why would we care about this?
Well, throughout the day, I could not stop thinking about what happened in the morning. Although my first reaction or "defense-mechanism" was to feel a sense of irritation at the bus driver for making a scene about me not having two dollars, my response now, after reflecting deeply on the situation, is a deep sense of empathy for the driver.
Bus drivers play such a significant role in society and should held in higher status. They are the people who make sure children and adolescents get back and forth from school safely, and have to deal with the potential threat of disrespectful citizens who board the bus. They constantly have to plea for higher wages and more funding from the government so they can maintain somewhat of a position in this capitalist economy.
My hope for readers is to actively attempt to look at the other side of a situation because not everything is black and white. Give people the benefit of the doubt, whether it is a friend, colleague, or family member. Not only will it allow you to engage in more perspective-taking practices, but you will also be less inclined to label yourself for one bad decision.