Somewhere around Walden
He's one of the street guys you see around Martin Luther King- sometimes Walden, sometimes Forest. There's a few of them. This guy is bald, missing a few teeth, always with a ready smile. African American, 50, thin, with a lanky gait and wearing a couple of sweatshirts. "My son!" he yells when he sees me today.
"Heeeyyy!" I respond, playing along. He sits in the wonderful chat seat and is overwhelmed by the positive energy making itself known on the bus.
"Every time I get on his bus," he says, talking to the others gathered around the front. It's hardly a bus in times like this; it's a living room, and we're relaxing on upholstered couches sharing popcorn, watching the game. "Every time. I never seen another driver make people so happy. I get on here, and I just feel good, man. I see you smilin,' I get up in here," he continues, pausing, searching for the words, interrupted by his own surge of well-being. "If I can make someone happy, make somebody smile, then I've fulfilled my purpose."
"'Cause that's huge."
"It is huge. It's inspiring. Look at this guy," he says to the others, pointing at me. "He's my son."
Two Caucasian high schoolers look at me, then at him: "Is this your token white son?"
"Hell yeah. My kids could be white."
"It's the 21st century," I say.
"It's all happening."
"I got two daughters, one of 'em's 5'9", the other one 6'7".
"Six seven?!" I reply, and we continue talking about his family. He has two tall daughters, and he's the short one. They're both in college. He was in the service. The tall one is doing computer programming. We cruise through the neighborhood, streaking along the wire, dotted lane lines flitting by on either side. Darren drives his 7 past the other way, looking amused at my too-big smile. It's a beautiful night.
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