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True Tales from the Bus

September 27, 2009

Let me cut to the chase. I commute. I watch people. This story actually happened.

It’s spring and my mind is rolling around my life, my health and what the hell do I do now? I’m travelling eastbound on the number 9 leaving Commercial and Broadway.

I always go to the back; the people who clog up the front when there are seats at the back annoy me. I just want to get home.

As the bus moves east, the commuters gradually thin out and I can’t help but notice a little drama playing out. There is an older woman mid-way down the bus, she might be late 60’s, it’s hard to tell. She is hanging over the back of her seat, staring very intently at the two older ladies sitting behind her. I can’t quite see what’s going on but they are putting a lot of energy into ignoring her. She’s wearing a read baseball hat.

‘Oh man! ‘ I think, ‘wacko alert’. I look a little closer, voyeur that I am and notice that the older, staring woman has Downe syndrome. I mentally count the blocks to my stop. I feel like an ass for thinking the woman in the red baseball hat was a wacko. I don’t have the energy to deal with anyone else today. The ladies with the purses get off the bus. I don’t know if it is their stop or not.

The woman in the red baseball hat gets up and moves seats.

She sits across from me, at the back, next to the lady I always think of as ‘nicely dressed office lady’. I see her on the bus all the time. She dresses nicely, not in a designer way but in a nice way. She looks approachable, maybe too approachable.

The woman in the red had holds out her hand, points at ‘nicely dressed office lady’s’ purse, then holds out her hand again as if to say, ‘change’?

Often I am stopped by someone on the bus for change – a trapped audience for pan handlers – so I’m not surprised by this, but selfishly, I’m relieved it’s not me. I left my white hat and horse at home.

The nice office lady is affronted and quickly turns away, catches my eye as if to say, ‘What am I going to do?’ The woman in the red hat catches her eye and slowly, very purposely sticks out her tongue. I want to laugh but I don’t want to be next. I still have a few stops to go.

As the ‘nicely dressed office lady’ sees her stick out her tongue, she really sees ‘red baseball hat’ woman. I can see her take in that this is not ordinary bus harassment. She picks up her other bag and I think she is going to make a break for the exit but she doesn’t. She reaches into her bag and pulls out a bag of caramel rice crackers, opens them and offers them, smiling, to the red baseball hat woman.

A smile of such joy as red baseball hat woman accepts the treat.

Nicely dressed lady asks if she likes them and red baseball hat woman nods enthusiastically.

It was such a small act of kindness but it reminded me how good it feels just to be noticed and how horribly lonely it is when everyone just looks through you.

I saw ‘Nicely dressed office lady’ on the bus today and it makes my heart a little lighter to remember her encounter with ‘red baseball hat’ woman.

Originally posted on Facebook Aug 7, 2009

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen Clement permalink
    October 29, 2009 12:53 am

    Beautiful story Kim!

  2. Debra permalink
    October 29, 2009 11:13 am

    Sassy and fun. Enjoyed the ride!

    • October 29, 2009 6:30 pm

      Thanks everyone! Still makes me feel good thinking about that day. Miracles can happen, even on the bus.

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