Inspirational people can take many forms. Frequently they are people we have a lot of direct contact with - parents, spouses, siblings, bosses and coworkers who help guide us through the challenges in life to become a better person. Famous and successful people we have never met may also be influential – business moguls, philosophers, celebrities or perhaps sports stars who have conquered demons and succeeded against adversity.
Last summer I met a hugely inspirational person who is neither family nor famous (but he is rapidly becoming the latter!) Tommy Tomkins, aka Tommy Transit, retired from bus driving in Vancouver a few years ago to a remote island. He took a part time job driving a bus full of drunk boating types from the local pub back to the marina. He’s the happiest, friendliest most positive person I have ever met and genuinely brings a smile to my face every time I think of his crazy eccentricities.
Tommy’s attitude, enthusiasm and Hawaiian shirts have made him something of a tourist attraction and local legend. His bus has a drum kit fixed to the dashboard and a sound system worthy of a small rock concert. Passengers are obliged pick a tambourine or a maraca when they board, and singing along to 70’s classics is mandatory. He hammers away on his drum kit whilst driving one handed and frequently stops to point out local places and people of interest. The experience can be so overwhelming my son showed signs of PTSD when we took a ride last summer. He also made local news recently with an interview that went viral (https://globalnews.ca/video/4346478/your-canada-galiano-island-bus-driver-gives-vacationers-more-than-just-a-drive-to-the-pub)
His life philosophy was shaped by a very difficult period 20 odd years ago. He got divorced, was declared bankrupt, lost both parents and his prized German shorthaired pointer all in the space of 6 months. But he came out depression a stronger person, determined to be a positive influence to others. At the time he was working as a driver on Vancouver’s public transport system and was picking up 150,000 passengers per year. This was the perfect opportunity to inspire and bring happiness to the masses!
According to Tommy, making people feel happy is simple (but he has had years of practice at it….) Notice something unique about them and make a sincere compliment about it. It doesn’t need to be a friend or an acquaintance, total strangers are just as worthy. “Nice hat” “Good luck at school today” “Suit looks great on you”. Remembering names and other small details is also really important. But the most important thing is not to expect anything in return – making someone smile should be all the
reward you need.