His friend was scrambling about his pockets for loose change when the first young man yelled with gleeful abandon,”Dis nigga don't care!!”
Meaning, this driver is sympathetic to your cause, and prioritizes larger concerns!
He looked exactly like Mos Def. The two of them sat together before the friend dipped out at Othello Street; Sir Def remained, a young man at the end of the evening, headed home on an empty bus and with only his thoughts for company.
As we passed Graham I peered across the street to see if Vern was panhandling outside the 7-11 gas station. He was. I double-tapped my horn in a friendly honk, getting his attention and waving large. Vern lit up on recognizing me and returned the wave.
“Is that Vern?” Mos Def asked.
“Yup! Cool guy.”
He grinned. “I think you're the only bus driver who does that.”
At first I was going to disagree, out of humility, but then I had to admit it even to myself: Who else is going to wave at Vern? And who’s going to take the trouble of honking the horn to do so? Nobody, that’s who.
I smiled. “Probably, yeah!” After a pause, I said, “I'm too nice, I can't help myself!”
It was an admission of kindness, vulnerability. If Mos had still been with his friend, I don’t know that I would’ve said anything. But on solo terms you can go a little further. Sensitivity can live a little larger this way. He grinned in understanding.
“Naw, you just part of the neighborhood!” he said, appreciatively. He settled further into his seat and looked out the window.
Thank you, world, for making room for someone like me. For letting me exist, even thrive, from time to time. I used to think fitting in was the way to survive. Learning the opposite is closer to the truth has given me more peace than I can relay here. You go out there as your best self for long enough and you begin to notice Like attracting Like. You bring out the light in others. Not every time, sure, but often enough to make it worth it. Because we do such things for ourselves, really; the others can react as they please.
I'll wave at Vern because waving at Vern makes me feel good, even if he doesn't notice.
But I won't deny it's a cherry on top that he saw me tonight.
Meet Vern here: Vern One.