Dare I say that I had a lovely commute this afternoon on the 19 Polk? Well, I did.
I got on at my usual stop, sat in the back with a few heavily bundled, quiet people. At Market, a man with a cane got on and settled in to the seat across from me.
"Merry Christmas," he said.
I smiled and said, "You too, sir."
He grinned. "Lemme ask you something," he began. "You seen these people in flip flops walking around?"
"Actually, I have," I said, still smiling. "This morning there was a girl in flip flops on my bus."
"Now, I can tell you know what I'm sayin
'," he said. "It's the winter time, these people should be hibernatin
' til spring. Then they can get up, take off a few pounds, put on them flip flops."
I nodded in agreement.
"I tell ya," he said, shaking his head. "I'm just thankin
' god he let another black man make it to 49 years. You done your Christmas shopping yet?" he asked me.
"Not really," I said. No need to explain I'm Jewish. "I got a few small things for my family but that's it."
"Yeah I hear ya," he said. "You could wait til the after Christmas sales, get yourself some real bargains."
A young couple got on at the Asian Museum stop. The man had a Macy's bag with a Santa Mickey Mouse on the side of it. My new friend looked at the bag, said, "You done your shopping for the baby, now?"
The young couple smiled. The boyfriend said, "Naw
, the baby shopping's been done. This is a little something for ME." he laughed. His girlfriend smiled and went back to playing a game on her phone.
We pulled in to the O'Farrell
Street stop. My friend stood up slowly, leaning on his cane. "You take care of that little baby," he told the couple. Then he looked at me and said, "You have a good night young lady."
"You too, sir," I said.
The automated announcement about service changes came on. The girlfriend in the couple listened to the Spanish version and then said, "Ese
-Ah." I looked up at her and smiled. She blushed. "Trying to learn the Spanish," she said.
I said, "Now we have to learn the Chinese version, then we'll be awesome," and I winked.
Later, I waited for a 1 California and fiddled with my ancient headphones, adjusting the foam parts, which were hanging on to the ear pieces, but just barely. I put on an album I'd been thinking of today, and while I stood in the bus stop I thought, I know why we have rib cages, it's to keep our hearts from leaping out of our chests. The music was just that good, just that heartbreaking. I stared out the window of my bus, letting the songs transport me back in time, while a crazy man stood a few rows behind me ranting and raving.
When I got out the bus I turned to look back at it, and I caught eyes with a man sitting near the door. He smiled at me, I smiled back, it was a nice yet fleeting moment, and I felt energized and good.