It's been a while since we've had a longer post. Here's part one~
One conversation begins and it snowballs. People want to talk. They see I'm a chatterbox, and they come on up as soon as the current chattee vacates the chat seat. An older lady I haven't seen in a while occupies the floor currently. We talk about travelling to Portland, how she doesn't give her son any money anymore, how he makes a lot more than she does, and how, well, he's more than just a little spoiled. Got to look out for yourself, I tell her.
The passengers seated around us look on, a genial collective presence listening in on their way home. Eyes behind sunglasses smiling, faces intrigued, silent but attentive in this new space.
A few fans get on- regulars who've intermittently been on the 4 over the years. Today the Egyptian queen is here- slender and tall, strong in cheekbones and character. After a moment a one-eyed godfather plops down in the chat seat.
"How's your day goin'?"
"Ooouuuhhh," he says.
"Oh, man. That bad, huh?"
"Yeah, I just got a phone call."
He really is a godfather. His goddaughter has gotten herself into some serious trouble, expensive trouble, and he's pondering the necessary course of action. We get into serious mode.
"Sometimes you gotta hit bottom 'fore you can start goin back up."
"Exactly, we got to consider, what's really the best course of action in the long term..."
Later, the kid comes up again. This boy was here the other day, young dark-skinned fellow, not yet a teenager; he stood right behind me for a while before getting off, silent. His observant eyes watch me as I drift through the Central District talking to people. You know he wants to talk, but doesn't just yet, simply sharing the space, silently taking part in the air of what's going on at the front of the bus. Right before stepping out, he had said, "you enjoy your job more than any other driver I ever seen." It's the sort of sentence where you can tell it was premeditated. Sometimes things are easier to say as you're leaving.
Today he's here again, stalking up tentatively, with quiet attentive eyes. I say how's it goin,' looking at him. In a loud, deep, and distinctly caucasian gregarious voice he responds- oh wait, that's not him, it's the man behind him, with the thick-frame glasses: "Goin great, how 'bout yourself?"
I respond to White Glasses, but I make sure Observing Eyes feels included, asking after his day as well. Glasses, in his 20s, is a hipster sort of fellow but with a more open presence, and he can't seem to stop himself from blurting it out:
"I dont know if people tell you this, but you've gotta be the most positive bus driver I've ever seen. Seriously!" He gives me his dead serious look, letting me in on the gravity of the sentiment.
Behind him an unseen female concurs, saying, "yeah, this guy's amazing."
"Oh, no," I say. "I try!"
"Dude, you have it awesome, that you can be like this, all day,"
Oh, goodness. I don't know how to handle compliments. "I just really enjoy being out here. I try," I stammer out.
"It seem like you don't have to, man!"
Unseen Female: "Yeah, you are just incredible..."
"Oh, you guys!"
The bus laughs.
"You're killin' me here!"
"It's like the mutual appreciation group, huh?"
"Makin' me blush! Listen, thank you all for bringin all this positive energy in here, it goes both ways," I exclaim, trying to turn it around on them. I mean that. Margolis once rode my 70 and noted how much I lit up when the construction guys got on at Harrison; such present souls rejuvenate me.
The boy comes forward on his way out, somewhat sidelined in conversation by Glasses. I make sure I say something to him: "hey, man. Have' good night tonight." Moments like that can really mean something when you're younger; at least they did for me.
The next chat seat-er is an older and very slim European woman. She's on her way to a meeting at her children's school.
"I hope it's not some serious disciplinary thing,"
"Oh God no, it's a PTA meeting!"
"Excellent! That means donuts!"
"Yes, exactly." As she steps out at The Promenade she says, "I hope you know you're wonderful." It was the tone not of a compliment but of a reminder, as in- yes, be modest, but don't hide from the good parts of yourself.
This ride to be continued~