You would assume the duties and encounters of a bus driver would be of the mundane variety. They pick up the same riders every day, take the same humdrum routes, listen to the same repetitive pop stations; it could feel like a never-ending Groundhog Day. But bus driver Tim Watson had an experience that derailed his usual routine.
When two unfamiliar passengers hopped on his bus, something didn’t feel quite right to him. He had a gut feeling that told him to pay attention to his surroundings, as this would be a work day he — nor the two passengers — would ever forget.
Northern California resident Tim Watson may have posed as your typical public bus driver, but in the end, he proved to be much more heroic than what his job title implied.
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Tim’s got his regulars, the people he makes daily small talk with on his familiar vehicle. Some became his dear friends. He was just a friendly guy with an ordinary job, and he expected nothing more than to drive people where they needed to go.
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But, on what seemed like just another day on the job, Tim was maneuvering his scheduled bus route when a young man and a child walked on the bus together. Tim had never seen them before, but thought nothing of it at first… until the two sat down.
While keeping his eyes on the road, Tim observed the somewhat-odd behaviors of the two. He assumed the man was in his mid-twenties, and noticed that he seemed strangely distracted. But it was how he treated the kid that worried Tim.
They sat toward the middle of the automobile, and the young man visibly attempted to restrain the restless child, who then started crying. Though he’d seen young kids cry on the bus on several occasions, something about this situation felt off to Tim.
While Tim quietly observed the little boy through his rear view mirror, he saw blatant fear in the child’s eyes, something not of a typical temper tantrum. This was a dangerous situation. Tim knew it in his gut.
As Tim’s bus drive continued, so did his worry. He couldn’t help but continue to look at the duo from his safe distance, hoping the weirdness in it was all in his head. But nothing would reassure him.
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Because as the ride went on, the youngster wouldn’t stop crying, and in response, the man, who seemed to become increasingly more anxious, urged him to stay quiet.
And it wasn’t just that he noticed the passengers’ behavior was odd; Tim thought that something seemed familiar about the situation. He just couldn’t put his finger on what it was. But then it hit him like a ton of bricks.
He suddenly remembered a news story he had just read that morning regarding a missing persons report. The newspaper disclosed that a 3-year-old boy had been missing from a San Francisco library. He then tried to rack his brain for more details before he proceeded doing anything.
See, Tim Watson is a father of two; so he possessed some paternal instincts. While he didn’t want to assume anything too soon, he also felt that he needed to save this child if he truly was who the police were desperately searching for.
Tim concluded that the only way for him to be more sure of his intuition was if he were to get a better look at the frightened boy. But how could he accomplish this investigation of sorts while driving the bus?
While Tim did his best to remain calm and appear as unbothered as ever, he noticed that the man seemed hyper-aware of his surroundings, as if he was looking to get off the bus. Tim had to act quickly.
He confidently made an announcement, saying a previous rider left behind a green backpack. This was obviously a lie, but Tim implied this backpack was of great importance, which gave him an opportunity to stop and “check” the bus for the bag.
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While Tim scanned the bus and passengers cooperatively checked under their seats for the nonexistent backpack, he got a close look at the distressed little boy, who astonishingly donned the same outfit as the boy on the news, which included a pair of unmistakable red Crocs.
After the failed search, Tim went back to his seat, ready to continue driving while also devising stage two of his now animate plan. Since the bus’ engine was loud enough to cover up Tim’s hushed voice, he cautiously reached for his phone and dialed 911.
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The police gave Tim strict instructions on what to do in his vulnerable position. Although Tim was as nervous as could be, his complete determination to save the kidnapped boy outweighed his vast fear.
Tim anxiously went about his route, planning to go to his next scheduled stop as advised by the authorities over the phone. They assured Tim that police would definitely be there waiting.
When they arrived at the stop, police swarmed the bus, having covered both of its exits, anticipating the man and boy’s departure. One by one, the bewildered passengers evacuated the vehicle, until finally, the suspect emerged.
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It was him. The police immediately pried the poor boy from the kidnapper’s arms and arrested the man on the spot despite his petty struggle to squirm away. The 3-year-old was smart enough to understand what was happening, so he grabbed onto the hand of one of the officers.
Evidently, the boy’s parents were joyous that their sweet son had been saved, and it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Tim. The boy’s family, as well as police officers, were beyond grateful for his act of bravery. Tim Watson then became a near celebrity.
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He was interviewed by a plethora of news stations, written about by every news site under the sun, and even threw out the first pitch at a San Jose Giants minor league baseball game!
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Tim lived by the “See Something, Say Something” mantra, and he was not aline. American Airlines’ employee Denise Miracle has been a ticketing agent with the popular air service for nearly three decades, and she, too, once encountered suspicious customers while on the clock.
When two young girls approached her counter in the summer of 2017, for instance, Denise immediately felt something was off. Unaccompanied minors always gave her some pause, but when Denise questioned the girls about their itineraries, her suspicion grew to concern.
To begin with, the young ladies— 15 and 17 years old— were attempting to fly from Sacramento to New York City. Two girls of that age flying such a great distance was already unusual, but then things became even more alarming.
Denise noticed the girls didn’t have much in the way of luggage. In fact, they were both only carrying one small backpack. That’s not a lot of baggage for an entire cross-country trip.
What initially struck Denise as odd was quickly escalating as she discovered that both girls were flying with one-way, first class tickets. Questions began flooding in. How could two young girls afford these tickets, why were they traveling so light, and where were their chaperones?
The red flags became too apparent and Denise decided to take some initiative and question the teenagers. As the girls struggled to answer without consulting their phones, Denise felt like it was her moment to act.
She informed the girls there seemed to be something amiss with their tickets, and asked them to wait patiently as she looked into it further. In that time, Denise was able to track the credit card that purchased the tickets.
Not surprisingly, the tickets weren’t purchased under either of the girl’s names. In fact, the card used to buy the tickets had been marked as potentially fraudulent. This was evidence enough; Denise needed to call in help.
While Denise was “sorting out the ticketing issue” she covertly called the police over to investigate the situation. Fortunately, the department was quick to respond and Deputy Todd Sanderson pulled the two ladies aside for further questioning.
What the deputy found was that the girls had plans to jet off to New York for the weekend at the invitation of a man they had befriended on Instagram. The idea was that they would do some modeling and appear in a few music videos.
Aside from the exposure, each girl was promised to net about $2,000 from their weekend work. The only problem? Neither of them had any idea that their tickets were only good for one way. What’s more, both of their parents thought they were at the other girl’s house.
It was instantly clear these two were the victims of a dangerous scam. It wasn’t until Deputy Sanderson informed the girls their tickets were only good for one way that it began to dawn on them the whole thing might be a trap.
What was the potential threat that the teens may have been walking into? Denise and the Sacramento Police Department speculate that the man the girls befriended on Instagram, known only as “Drey” was luring them into a human trafficking plot.
The moment authorities attempted to contact Drey, his entire online presence completely disappeared. Sanderson suspects that the number the girls were communicating with him through was a Google number, which is near impossible to trace.
Both girls adamantly insisted that under no circumstances would they have done anything they didn’t want to do. But the harsh reality is that if Denise hadn’t stopped them from getting on that flight, they likely wouldn’t have had any say in the matter.
Luring young, impressionable girls in with the promise of modeling work is apparently a common tactic in the human trafficking circle. With the universal presence and access to social media, this scheme has only become more and more of a threat.
The girls were both returned home to their families who were more than grateful to Denise’s attentiveness — the real hero in this ordeal. One of the girl’s mother’s even tracked her down on Facebook to thank her directly.
The grateful mother wrote, “That was my 15-year-old daughter. There are no words to express our gratitude to you. Because of you, my daughter is home safe with her family where she is loved and belongs.”
American Airlines issued a public statement to thank Denise for her incredible service. They also took the opportunity to further highlight the dangers that exist and how best to avoid becoming a victim.
As American Airlines general manager Aleka Turner put it, “Denise is a testament to the critical role our frontline team members play each and every day in the operation and the lives of each person they come in contact with. She’s a true professional with a huge heart.”
There’s nothing quite like exploring new places and meeting new people. Unfortunately, traveling anywhere often involves a bit of risk and, of course, a trip to the airport, which can be stressful. Between the long waits and the pressure to make it there on time, flying can be a real ordeal.
Shaina Murry was just one of hundreds of people waiting for her American Airlines flight at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Eager to return home to her husband (pictured here with Shaina) and tired from her travels, she hurriedly found her gate and sat down. Then, she noticed something unusual…
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A man lay sprawled out on the airport floor. “It was clear something was wrong,” Shaina recalled later in a post on Facebook. “I just didn’t know what.” So, she rushed over to find out.
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Shaina asked the man, whose name was Will, a few questions. She never shared exactly what he told her, but after their conversation, she knew there was something she needed to do: call for medical assistance.
Then, Will shared something else with her. Over and over again, he told her he was “afraid he was going to miss his flight while waiting for the airport medical team to come assist him,” Shaina wrote. That’s when she realized exactly what was going on…
Will was autistic, Shaina determined, and the overwhelming stress of traveling alone had made him very uncomfortable. This realization “triggered me to switch gears,” she wrote.
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Most other people would have left Will waiting for the medical team, but not Shaina. Instead, she assured her new airport pal that all was well: she’d make sure he boarded his plane before takeoff—and she didn’t stop there.
Together, the duo called Will’s mom “to let her know he wasn’t feeling well and seeing the medical team at Dallas Airport,” Shaina said. Will’s mother explained that her son was indeed autistic, confirming Shaina’s hunch.
When the medical team arrived, Will, Shaina, and the staff at American Airlines discussed the best way to make sure Will was in good condition to continue with his flight. Unfortunately, they were concerned about his health—and his ability to remain in such a cramped space.
“The medical team said he needed to eat and have something to drink,” Shaina wrote, “and they were worried he would get sick again and didn’t know if he should fly.” Did this mean Will would miss his flight?
If the typical stressed-out, in-a-hurry traveler had been the one to first talk to Will, he might’ve ended up grounded. Shaina, however, was no ordinary traveler—and she wanted to make sure Will was safe.
“I worked with American Airlines and the medical team at Dallas,” Shaina said, “and told [them] I would change my flight, grab some lunch with him, and make sure he got on his flight okay.”
In response, American Airlines helped out by facilitating Shaina’s flight transfer free of charge. “American didn’t charge me a dime for the flight change,” she wrote. The airline took another above-and-beyond action, too…
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Shaina added that American Airlines “even called me when [Will] and I were eating lunch together to let me know his gate changed.” Everyone with the power to help came together to make sure one frightened Will made his flight!
Finally, after a meal and pleasant conversation, Shaina walked Will to his gate. American Airlines took over from there, and the gate clerk “made sure he boarded safely to go see his Mom for Christmas.”
Just as Shaina (pictured with her husband here) promised, Will made his flight! Later, she beautifully reflected on her hectic day at the airport. “Today was not at all what I pictured it to be,” she wrote. “It has turned out so much better…”
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Her account of the day continued: “I had an amazing lunch with a wonderful young man who had a heart of gold from Louisville, Kentucky.”
There’s no denying it: airports are stressful. They’re loud, crowded, and at times they feel like a labyrinth no map can navigate you through. But Shaina sacrificed her easy traveling experience and spent more time in the chaos for a stranger. That’s pretty amazing!
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Of course, Shaina couldn’t have done it alone, and she acknowledged everyone who played a big role in getting Will on his flight. “American Airlines handled the situation with such professionalism and care,” she wrote. “The medical team [was] also just as amazing.”
Most importantly: Shaina acknowledged a truth everyone could stand to hear. “Every once and awhile we all need a little help. Regardless of disability, age, or social status. Thanks for making my day Will!”
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Although Shaina wouldn’t likely ever see Will again, the day she spent with him might have changed her whole life—and his. It just goes to show you that a little kindness and sacrifice can go a long way!
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