Rollin' back home on Rainier Avenue, deadheading to base. That's when the front of the bus says "Atlantic Base" or "To Terminal" or somesuch. It's a gray area as to whether we're required to pick up people during those stretches, but we can if we want to- and I, of course, want to.
At Rainier and State an odd quartet got on- a white woman between 30 and 40 and her toddler daughter, and two African-American gents who were slightly younger (20-30) than the mother and a lot taller. They all knew each other, and were in good spirits. The mother mysteriously kept apologizing for her friends, though I could find nothing amiss with their behavior. "I'm sorry," she said sheepishly, as one of them bounded on with a huge smile. I could tell they were happy to see me, and one of the gents, who had put a bicycle on the rack, seemed to revel in particular in the warmth of the good feeling on the bus.
You can tell when it's unusual for someone, for the bus driver to be such a friendly entity. The feeling of being comfortable. A look of benevolent discovery on his face, the pleasant joy of finding something unexpected- what's this, a smiling driver who looks 12! They all sat in the back and talked and laughed. Nobody else on the bus as we drift the rest of the way to downtown.
As he got off at 5th and Jackson, he turned to me and said, "I've got a Cadillac." I said, what? He pointed to his bicycle and said, "check it out," in a sort of humble tone, hesitant to be proud or gregarious with a driver. Sure enough, his bicycle had the Cadillac logo on the front and back, and as there wasn't anyone else on the bus I got out of the seat to look at it. For a moment it was just a couple of guys, standing around a bike. The toddler, oscillating between being distracted and watching us with curious eyes. I asked him if he put those on there, the logos, and he laughs- No, they really do make bicycles! You got a Cadillac, I said, and we- him, his apologetic white woman-friend, his decidedly unsober buddy, and the toddler- parted ways with many pleasantries exchanged. I drove away, wondering where they were off to next.