There's a young African-American family, somewhere back there. It's the 10, and we're crowded today.
Two young girls, with their father, mother, and stroller in tow; Mom's wearing purple, got her hair in braids, tied back in a high ponytail. Dad has a puffy white jacket and close-shaven hair, no sunglasses, with heavy blue jeans and basketball shoes. For lack of a better description, he looks exactly like Big Boi on the cover of Outkast's double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. He'd been watching me do my thing, as I greeted and chatted up all the passengers.
They, the family in back, all seemed a bit weary from what looked to have been a long day. The daughters looked out the window, or leaned against Mom, drifting in and out of slumber. The crowd was a mixture of everyone- some happy, some tired, some impatient. From the back lounge, Big Boi looked on in silence, taking in my behavior.
At 15th and Pine the family came up to leave. The girls ("Bye! Bye!") were first out. "Thank you," said Mom to me in a subdued but truthful voice.
"No, thank you! Take care now!"
Big Boi brought up the rear, carrying the stroller, holding his big jacket in close to keep it from hitting people. When he got to me he said quietly, "Hey. You're doin' a great thing."
"Carin' about the people."
"Thank you," I said, wishing I could tell him how much I meant it.
As they began walking away, he added: "Kind heart!"
He said it with the muted enthusiasm of a quiet hope. There was a gentle sadness on his face, the way God's might look were he to survey his wayward children. The late Roger Ebert once wrote that it wasn't the tragic events in films that brought him to tears, but rather the moments of humans being enormously good to each other. To see empathy, to see compassion; these are the actions that stop us in our tracks.
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