When a student works partime to make ends meet, each shift is an opportunity, and every tip precious. When Bongeka Mxotwa, a third-year Forestry student at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s George campus, recently made the bus trip home after a late shift at a restaurant in the Garden Route Mall, visions of a warm bed and a good long rest were probably uppermost in her mind. Until she realised, half an hour after arriving home, that she had left her wallet with all her money on the bus.
“I was so upset when I realised that my wallet with R270 was left behind on the GO GEORGE bus,” she says. “It was almost 11 o’ clock, and I didn’t know where to go for help, so I Googled GO GEORGE and found the call centre number on the web page. I phoned and told the lady that I was out of airtime, but that I needed her assistance. She was so helpful and immediately called me back and took down all my details. I’ll never forget her kindness.”
Meanwhile, Nicolene Barendse, GO GEORGE ambassador on the late-night bus, found a wallet on one of the empty seats. It could be anyone’s – there was no way to know. She took it to bus driver Thomas Swart, and together they looked for some contact details, without success. All they could do was to count the money with another ambassador looking on as witness. Then Swart’s phone rang – it was the call centre enquiring about Bongeka’s wallet. It was a huge relief to the team on the bus, because they knew the loss of so much money would be critical for the owner. “Can you believe that the bus driver immediately phoned me and offered to bring me my wallet? I was overjoyed!” says Bongeka. She declined the generous offer of having it returned at half past 11 at night, and had it delivered to her home in Rosemoor by Swart the next day – “with everything still in there”.
Bongeka wrote an email note on the GO GEORGE web page, saying that she “really and humbly appreciate the integrity of the GO GEORGE employees”.
“This is a heart-warming story for us,” commented GO GEORGE manager, James Robb. “Our staff are on the job very early, and finish very late. When a passenger is unhappy about something, or don’t yet understand the routes and schedules, the bus driver and the ambassadors are first in line to take the punch. Although they understand passengers’ uncertainties and frustration and don’t take it personally, to get a pat on the back when they have gone the extra mile, makes not only them, but all of us feel good. After all, we are here to deliver a service.”