How bags of goodwill saved day
Bus driver reunites Calgary man with groceries
As the bus pulled away from Richard Viitala, he remembered his groceries.
Two bags of hash browns, frozen fruit and other essentials were driving away and Viitala knew it would be a challenge to replace them.
“Food’s expensive nowadays, especially if you don’t want to go to the food bank,” said Viitala. “Even though I’m on social (assistance) … some people need it more than me,” he said.
Wondering if he’d see his purchases again, Viitala called Calgary Transit to see if they could track the groceries down. They made no promises but said they would ask drivers on the route Viitala was on, letting them know to check for unattended hash browns.
“I shot a prayer up to J.C. and sat back and waited for a bit — all I could do was hope,” Viitala said.
Enter Mike Hillis, a Calgary Transit employee of nine years who spotted the missing sustenance on his bus. His quick actions possibly saved the frozen goods from spoil.
“I called in and said I was going to eat them,” Hillis said with a laugh.
He dropped off his remaining passengers and headed across town to deliver the goods to Viitala, who was thrilled to hear he was getting his groceries back.
“When I pulled up and saw the smile on his face, that just made my day,” Hillis said.
A grateful Viitala offered him an energy drink to get through the rest of his shift.
“I was just happy I could help,” Hillis said.
“We’re not just bus drivers, we’re also part of the community … everything happens for a reason.”
Viitala thanked Hillis and Calgary Transit for their efforts to track down the food when they reunited on Wednesday.
“They could have said there’s nothing much we can do, but they made things happen,” he said.
We’re not just bus drivers, we’re also part of the community mike hillis, bus driver
Calgary Transit driver Mike Hillis shakes hands with Richard Viitala, who left his groceries on Hillis’ bus and was grateful to get them back.