The ride to and from work is always an adventure. Sometimes quiet enough for me to enjoy my soundtrack for the day (lately it's been music from the movie, The Greatest Showman!) but often the train provides a show of it's very own. The genres vary from musicals as aspiring artists sing and play their original music or perform amazingly choreographed routines (some actually good and some that think they're good!) to made for T.V. drama that you can't help but get drawn into!
Last week, I hopped on the last car at Cypress Ave with just one other person in it. I was fully expecting it to be a quiet ride. As the train began to move, a group of 5 middle schoolers came busting through the connecting doors and charged towards the back door. They ran, one right behind the other, and kicked the back door trying (unsuccessfully) to get it to open. Over and over, they backed up and kicked as hard as they could. I was horrified as my brain jumped ahead to what would happen if the door actually did open as we were flying down the tracks. As my dearest friends know, I am not very good at hiding my emotions and one of the boys soon saw the look on my face and got in my face asking, "what?" I calmly replied, "that's not a good idea." He turned to his friends and said, "I'm not going to do it anymore because this lady says its not a good idea." Then he sat down next to me and asked what I was doing. I had my phone out and was about to put on my music. He asked if he could play on my phone, meanwhile his friends are still kicking at the door. I told him he could not play on my phone and was wrestling with the fear that he was going to grab it and run. I wanted to stick it in my backpack and out of his reach.
Instead, I put it down and turned to look at him. I told him that I was worried his friends were going to get hurt. He yelled and told them to stop. They all came and sat around me then started shooting spitballs at each other. I was in the line of fire! One grazed my hair and turned to the shooter, told him to stop and he asked "why?" I looked around to the spitball littered floor and said that it was gross and dirty. The kid next to me stood and asked, "are you calling me dirty?" Responding calmly again, I said, "no, what you're doing is gross and dirty." I asked them to look at the floor and all the mess they were leaving behind for other passengers. One of them yelled out, "so" and jumped up running through the connecting door but not going into the next car. The rest of the group followed and crammed in the tiny space between the cars.
We were pulling up to my station and they were shooting spitballs at the people on the platform. As we slowed, I looked at them through the window and the kid who sat next to me was looking right at me... and flipping me off. I smiled, the most genuine smile I could, and waved. His friends opened the door to the car next door and ran on. He looked at them then back at me and opened the door to my car. He stormed over to me, I was the only one in the car, and asked why I did that. I played dumb and asked what he was talking about. He asked why I smiled and waved. With a bit of sarcasm, I asked, "were you not waving good-bye?" He laughed and gave me a hug!
While he hugged me, he told me he would try to be more careful and to have a good night. WHAT? I totally didn't expect my train ride to end that way. I have been working through a lot of my own issues and battling with being humble. It was hard to keep my cool and not jump into teacher mode. I am so thankful for my time as a teacher and the many tools my time in the classroom has given me, but I've had to switch my brain to ministry mode and practice being okay with it. This train ride could have gone so many other ways, many of them would have been extremely discouraging. Instead, God used this unexpected encounter to reaffirm that I am exactly where I am suppose to be.
I'm JoAnn. I am a God worshipping, Jesus following, child teaching, puppy petting, daughter of the King of Kings, who is grateful for daily grace and forgiveness!