Teachers on the #9

#9 BusI’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at a homeless shelter (Martin de Porres) in San Francisco on Thursdays making and serving soup to our guests. It makes me happy because it feels good to do good stuff.

To get there, I sometimes take the SF Muni #9 bus, and if you want to see a cross section of society – diversity of every description – just take a ride on the #9. Trust me, it’s all there…all!

Anyway, on a certain Thursday, I’m on my way, sittin’ there feeling pretty good and (this is extra) proud of myself. I mean, here I am, every week, unpaid, doing service, doin’ good stuff, giving back…a great guy if there ever was one, right? Jesus, move over.

Well, OK, that’s a small part of me. But now, (even tho I’m a bit scared to do this), I’m going to trust you, dear reader, by sharing an entry from my journal (the part in italics) about the bus ride back from Martin’s on that very same day. Another part of me – a part that I’m less proud of, but have to take responsibility for just the same:

… back from Martins on the #9. Old black man sitting in one of the seats reserved for seniors/handicapped. I’m on the 1st regular seat very near him. He’s holding his head in his hands…totally out of it, smelly, moaning loudly, drooling too. His face is covered with sores. Is he sick or is he high? Can what he is ever be called “high”?

Everyone, me included, trying to ignore him & give him a wide berth, except that the bus is packed and I’m kind’a stuck. A lady gets on…many bundles, a bit younger than him, I think. Despite the fact that he can barely hold his head up, let alone his body, with great effort he gets up and offers her his seat.

I now freak out. I am shamed by him and reminded for the millionth time about my assumptions, prejudices and judging mind. Another beloved teacher in disguise.

That very first “thought”, that “rush” we get, before intellect kicks in (spinning justifications), that’s what’s in our hearts. What we “feel” before intellect – the cavalry – “comes to the rescue,” that’s where the truth is, that’s where the work is!

You know what? I think I’ll be getting closer to the human being I’m hoping to become, when, while sitting on a bus, I’ve stopped judging which people getting on would or wouldn’t be “acceptable” to me as a seat mate: “Not this one, not this one, not this one, this one seems OK”. (I don’t think Jesus would be doing this). When I stop doing this, I think I’ll be making some progress. I have work to do.

Practice Tip Push PinPractice Tip: Next time you have a thought or action that you are not proud of, don’t push it away. Let it in. Along with all of our positive attributes, this too is us – and that’s OK. How can we possibly begin the repairs, before we acknowledge take ownership of all our parts?

Please be kind to (and patient with) yourself,



About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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