A very long time ago, when I was still in high school, I took the bus to school a lot. One of
those days, I was in the bus, and a girl, who can't have been older than middle school or
elementary school age, had snuck onto the bus without paying, sitting down quietly on a one
person seat. She'd thought the bus driver hadn't noticed, but she had, as she stopped the whole
bus, locked the doors and got out of her seat, strolling towards the girl.

"Why didn't you just pay?" she asked. The girl didn't respond. It was silent. Everyone was
watching. The girl looked down, not saying anything. Scared and uncomfortable. The bus
driver continued. "You're coming up right now and paying your fare."

there was a woman sitting nearby. A young woman, who was the only person to speak up.
"You're singling her out," she said. "This is an overreaction. She's just a kid, there's
no reason to publicly call her out like this, much less to stop the entire bus."

The bus driver sighed, relenting. "Fine, I'll let her ride for free this time, if you insist."

But then the woman shook her head. And this is the part that always stayed with me. She shook
her head, and said "No. I'll pay for her ticket. How much is it?" she held out her wallet.
The bus driver stared. The woman wasn't giving her the satisfaction. "You don't have to pay, I
already said-" "No. I'm paying for her ticket."

eventually the bus continued driving, and everyone resumed what they were doing. I could
hear the woman softly talking to the girl. I couldn't hear what was said, but her tone of
voice was gentle, comforting. It felt like such painful kindness. Not giving the bus
driver the satisfaction of 'Allowing' the girl to ride the bus. Where we got on was not
a rich neighborhood. I don't know who either of them were. But I hope they're alright, now.