He heard a heartbreaking yelp from behind him and quickly turned around, trying to figure out where the sound had come from. He glanced through the bus until he found it. He felt distressed as his heart sank to the pit of his stomach. In the back, a boy was sitting with his sleeves covering his face as he tried to stifle his cries.
The boy didn’t want anyone to hear his sobs, but Tom already had. What was going on? Why was he crying? But Tom’s stomach twisted into the knot when he noticed the little boy’s shoes
It’s understandable why it is so stressful for children to start over at a new school. Will they find new friend to hang out with at lunch time? Will they find their classes on time? Will they have good teachers?
It’s no wonder why the unfamiliarity can be so daunting on a child. But Dale’s first day at a new school ended in a nightmare for the 7-year-old boy.
The first half of his first day went well enough. He got to where he needed to be and he learned a fair amount about his teachers and fellow classmates. He even spoke to a boy that sat next to him at recess, despite how shy he felt.
Maybe things were going to be a lot better than he anticipated. But, later that day, Dale made a huge mistake that would change his life forever.
At 3:15 pm, the school bell rang and Dale was excited to head back home. Students flooded out of the classrooms and into the halls while Dale stood back, waiting for the majority to leave before he would.
He saw the familiar yellow bus and sighed. He was a little nervous, he was only 7-years-old and it felt like a big step to take the bus on his own, despite his mom going through it with him that morning. He approached the bus and got on. He had no clue what was going to happen.
There were other kids on the bus, but he didn’t recognize any of them. Feeling shy, he made his way to the very back of the bus and took a seat. He zoned out as he quietly looked out the window, watching the trees they were passing. He was relieved that he would be home soon.
The bus stopped and a few kids got off. He noticed an older man stepping onto the bus, and taking a seat in the front. His eyes found Dale the second he sat down, he was now staring at the boy. Why was he doing that? Dale had no clue what was to come.
It was 3:40 pm when his mom felt the worry bubbling in her stomach. He was supposed to be home 10 minutes before. She tried to shake the feeling as she sipped on her tea. She reminded herself that there could have been a delay, there was no need to worry. Everything was okay, right?
She stared at the clock as she waited. It was his first day, he would be fine, it was just new to him. But she was wrong.
But when the clock hit 4, she felt nauseous with nerves. Something must’ve happened. She phoned the principal and informed the school that her son hadn’t returned home.
The emergency chat group for the school was instantly updated on the information as they were told what he looked like and what he was wearing that day. They were asked to keep an eye out. But time was running out for Dale.
Minutes were passing fast. Dale was confused as to why the trip was taking so long, it felt shorter this morning. He felt nervous when he realized that he had been on the bus for an hour. Did he miss his stop? He began to shake with nerves.
The old man was still staring at Dale. Dale didn’t know why and suddenly, the man got up from his seat.
The old man got closer as his bloodshot eyes focus on the little boy. It was only the two of them and the bus driver on the bus. But Dale felt all alone.
He felt like he was going to be sick. He wanted to be home, but he had no clue that the day was far from over.
It had been well over an hour and his nerves were only increasing. But the bus stopped back at the school and Dale knew something was seriously wrong.
His hands were sweaty and he was shaking as his heart raced. The old man seemed to like it. But then three seniors got onto the bus. This was his chance to get help.
Tom, a senior student at the Holy Family Catholic School in Liverpool, boarded the bus after basketball practice after school. He was accompanied by two of his friends, Harry and Dylan. They took their seats at the front of the bus and chatted excitedly.
It was their first day back at school after the December break. But none of the boys could have suspected how the day would end.
Tom’s phone buzzed and he pulled it out of his pocket. When he saw the message, his brow furrowed in an expression of concern, but he continued to chat with his friends.
That’s when he heard a sob from the back of the bus. He turned to see an old man walk past him and get off. Then, he saw a devastated little boy sobbing into the sleeves of his parka at the back of the bus. What had happened?
He approached Dale and asked him what had upset him so much. Through the tears, Dale explained that he was new in the area and had gotten on the wrong bus.
To add to the boy’s anxiety, he had no cellphone and probably didn’t have enough money to get home. In fact, he didn’t even know where his home was! That’s when Tom noticed the tennis shoes with blue laces that the boy was wearing.
After listening to the little boy’s dilemma, Tom knew what he had to do. He pulled a fistful of notes out his back pocket and gave them to the crestfallen boy.
Then, he told the bus driver to stop the bus. He pointed at Dale’s shoes and told him to keep the little boy on the bus while he got help. “It’s ok mate, don’t worry, you’ll be home soon,” he reassured Dale. Then, he pulled out his phone.
Tom, Harry, and Dylan began to search for taxi services on their phones. Bingo! They called the Delta taxi service and sent him their location.
And, just to make sure that Dale would be safe, they waited with him for the taxi to arrive. But none of the teens expected that they would go viral for their good deed.
Another student who had witnessed the incident posted the story on Facebook. “There really are some truly decent kids out there! All I know is his name is Tom and he’s a year 11 pupil at Holy Family so if anyone knows him or his parents, let them know what a lovely lad they’ve raised! Faith in humanity restored a little today.”
It wasn’t long before the story spread on social media like wildfire.
Harry Campbell’s mother, Colette, wrote: ‘Harry had told Dylan to ring the taxi to pick him up… to make sure he got home safe… God love him, this little fella was upset and had got on the wrong bus and with it being his first day wouldn’t have known very many people either.”
But would the identity of the kind and considerate senior ever be uncovered?
After the story went viral, someone who knew Tom personally tagged his older sister, Katie O’Brien, in the post. She replied: “Ahhh everyone it was my little brother. I’ve just been tagged in this by a friend of mine. We are so proud of Tom and it’s so lovely to know he’s a good lad in the outside world.”
“The school rang our mum and left a lovely message. All your comments are so so lovely they’ve had us all close to tears, Tom will hate all the attention,” Katie added. But would Dale ever repay Tom for what he did?
When Tom saw Dale at school the next day, he asked him how he was doing. Dale replied by handing him his money back, explaining that the taxi driver had refused to take it. The taxi driver had been so moved by Dale’s tears that he decided to drive him home at no charge!
It wasn’t long before Tom’s act of kindness reached Matthew Syme, the head of the school. He was delighted that Tom and his friends had shown such compassion. “It is just lovely and at the start of the year it really sets the tone for everyone else,” he said. Then, he made a comment about Tom’s character.
“Tom is an incredibly thoughtful and all-round good guy…. He was just pleased the boy had got home safe. He has set a great example in front of a whole bus of year sevens, who have all that worry and anxiety about the bigger kids.”
He also said that Tom’s good dead is an amazing example of how older pupils at the school are expected to look out for the younger ones.
And what does Tom think about all the attention? Well, he doesn’t think that what he did was a big deal, but his family thinks otherwise.
His sibling admitted that she and her family were proud of all three of the boys for helping, adding, “It is just so nice to see teenagers getting some good press for a change.”