When a south Belfast bus driver encountered a woman who’d gotten on the wrong bus, he soon discovered why her simple mistake left her panicking and in tears.
The woman, Jacqueline Mason, was heading to visit her 79-year-old mother at Bradley Manor care home on Dec. 9, 2020. But restrictions due to the pandemic strictly regulated visitation into 30-minute time slots.
It was already 3:10 p.m. when Jacqueline got on the wrong bus; while her visit was set for 3:30 sharp.
Jacqueline hadn’t seen her mother in a long time, and it looked like she was about to lose that opportunity. The clock was ticking.
“I started crying, and I said I’m not too sure if I’m on the right bus,” Jacqueline later told Sky News.
Luckily, Alec Bailey, a veteran Translink driver of 35 years, decided to take matters into his own hands—even if it meant causing his passengers a slight setback.
“I could see the tears welling up in Jacqueline’s eyes,” Alec recalled. “She said, I hadn’t see [sic] my mom in a long time. I said to her, don’t be panicking, take a seat and we’ll sort something out.”
Alec made a quick decision. He stood up at the next junction, apologized, and told his passengers they were about to make a detour to get Jacqueline where she needed to be.
Fortunately, the passengers were “grand,” said the 57-year-old driver. It was just a detour of 7 or 8 minutes, but it meant the world for Jacqueline during these troubling times.
They arrived at Bradley Manor, just off Crumlin Road, just in time.
The news outlet happened to be at the care center covering another story and caught the heartwarming moment between Jacqueline and her mother, Eileen McGrugan, on video. Alec, who isn’t on social media at all, had no idea that his good deed would soon get picked up, explode, and go viral on Twitter.
He had no idea until he’d returned home and his daughter asked him if he’d driven the 11B route that day. He had. “Why?” he asked.
“Because you’re all over social media,” she answered.
She sent him the video clip, along with the heartfelt comments from viewers, lauding the generous bus driver’s “absolutely amazing” actions. It didn’t stop there. Sky News tracked down Alec the next day to hear more about his tale.
“My daughter sent me the wee clip and when I saw the happiness and joy, it made my day, I was just so happy,” he said. “It was just so lovely to see that she got there in time.”
The veteran driver added that he was worried that he might be reprimanded. But it was just the opposite in the end.
“I’m proud of Alec for going above and beyond to help Jacqueline,” Translink Chief Executive Chris Conway shared of the incident.
He added, “I’m delighted that we were able to help in this case. I would also like to thank our passengers on this bus for their support and goodwill.”
Meanwhile, Alec’s co-workers have been “giving me a tonne of stick for being a superhero,” he says.
“I’m not a hero at all,” he insists. “It was just something I had to do. The way this year has been with people not seeing their mothers and fathers, it just really struck a chord with me.
“I just want to wish Jacqueline and her mom a very happy Christmas.”
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