The afternoon sun was burning off, fading slowly as the shadows took over. The energy of the day may be waning, but on the 4 things are as lively as ever. We've got a good crowd tonight, headed home to the Central District after a hot day. There's a festive quality, fed perhaps by myself, but also by the gregarious nature of some of the passengers, which encourages people to open up. Sounds like a birthday party in here.
At 20th a lanky teenager comes forward; this was during the days of 'pay as you leave.' He'd been taking part in the joy, joking and relaxing as if all these strangers were friends. We have to remember that many teens, especially those who don't work with the public, haven't really had the chance to talk with people they don't know. It's a new experience, and a significant one. You can't be quite so self-absorbed. I get exhilarated watching him talk, holding his own with the others, of different generations and races; sometimes, if the light is right, you feel like you can almost see it- one of those tiny moments where people come of age.
Afterwards, he comes up, about to get off the bus. "Hey man, I don't got no money left," he says to me, throwing his hands in the air. People are listening.
"That is all right," I respond. "I appreciate you tellin' me!"
"Thanks, man," he says sincerely.
Spontaneously, he adds, "Sometimes I lie... But not this time!"
The bus dies laughing. I say something like, "Thank you! I'm honored!" and we continue giggling over it as we drive on. His statement is endearing, in addition to being totally ridiculous; but what it also is is honest. Inwardly I smile, that we were able to build an environment where he felt comfortable enough to be his cheeky growing self.
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