We know good news stories don’t sell newspapers but seeing as there are so few of them about these days – newspapers that is, not good news stories – we’ll see how they go on online.
Random acts of kindness. You know, when you get to the checkout to discover that the person in front of you wants to pay for your groceries. Not the time when you’re catering for a family barbecue for 50, more likely when you’re racing through with the milk you forgot to buy when you bought all the stuff for the aforesaid barbecue earlier.
No, don’t be like that, it’s the thought that counts. And we’d like to count the thought that one Canberra bus driver gave to helping out someone he didn’t really know – just because he could.
The driver, Matty, used to do the regular Number 26 run from outer Gungahlin into the town centre.
One of his regulars was a fine fellow called George Newman, 73.
Describing himself as a “creature of habit”, George would usually flag the Number 26 down once a week or so from his home in Taylor so he could get his errands done in town.
Another part of his habit was to carry his “best mate” Logan with him at all times. No, it’s not a human, animal, vegetable or even mineral – Logan is a rather handsome lump of hickory, fashioned into the shape of a walking stick. Why Logan? Because it has the head of a wolf on the handle.
Being a creature of habit also makes George a sociable chap. So much so that over the past seven months he’s been catching the No 26, he’s become friendly with its regular driver Matty.
“I was speaking to Matty the other day and he asked me where my walking stick was,” George said. “I explained that it was broken, and he told me to bring it in next time and he would see if he could fix it.
“I did this and, about four days later, he returned it as good as new.”
George, who worked in hospitality prior to retirement, loves to have a chat and said he looked forward to his regular yarns with Matty, but that was about as far as it went.
“For him to do something like this was just wonderful,” he said. “I would like to compliment him not only on his courteous manners and good driving, but above all, for what he did for me in repairing my walking stick. It has sentimental value and I was very pleased to have it back.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect that the stick could be fixed. The bolt had snapped in half . But Matty did an amazing job. He drilled the bits out and put in a new bolt and then glued it all back together.
“It was such a surprise when he turned up with it, I couldn’t thank him enough.”
Region tried to contact Matty to thank him publicly too, but it seems modesty got in the way of his day in the online spotlight.
But he did make Transport Canberra’s weekly e-newsletter after George spread the word about the good deed.
“We asked Matty how he was able to fix the snapped walking stick and he explained how he carefully removed the broken screw and replaced it with a longer more supportive screw – you could say Logan is now better than new,” the newsletter trumpeted.
“Matty is a man of few words but his actions show how warm his heart is. He initially started with Transport Canberra and in 2011 became a bus driver and has been providing excellent customer service since.”
For George, not only was it a fine act of human kindness, it also helped restore his confidence in travelling out in public. An earlier accident forced him to use the stick, and he said sometimes it made him feel vulnerable.
His new improved version, he said, thanks to Matty, gave him stability and protection.
“Not that I’d ever whack anyone with it,” George said, “but if I did, it would certainly hurt!”