It’s New Year’s Eve. The work day is done a little earlier than usual. I head to the bathroom, then the busstop. Always the bathroom. Who knows how long before the bus will arrive.
I stand with all of the other bus commuters and wait. I recognize a guy that i’ve seen on the #10 before. A round, gentle-faced guy wearing a knitted hat and headphones, visibly catching the beats. I smile inside and wonder what he was listening to. I fidget with my coat collar, making sure it stays up and surrounds my cowlneck sweater, it’s windy and the chill travels quick. I put my fleece gloved hands back into my pockets just for added warmth, when i notice a guy giving me a brief glance. I have a feeling he wants to ask me something.
I lean my tired frame onto the plastic exterior of the busstop wall as the youngish guy wearing a jacket three times larger than he should be wearing walks toward me and asks, “Excuse me, have you seen the #10 go by?” Unsurprised, i reply, “No, i’m waiting on that one too.” He thanks me as i grab my phone from my pocket, remembering his silver grill across his top 4 teeth. A quick check on the phone via Twitter confirmed my suspicions that the bus was operating on a holiday schedule.
I walked over to the the man i recognized and the young man who asked about the #10, to show them the phone and explain that we have to walk to another stop since the New Year’s Eve fireworks display had the buses rerouting. As the three of us start walking to the next bus stop, I’m grateful that the young guy is good at talking. I don’t mind that it’s to explain why he limps or why he won’t come downtown to watch the fireworks anymore. I chime in the obvious, that “all the walking will keep us warm.” The older guy keeps more to himself, but continues to walk with us and once we reach our new stop in the projects, I take his lead and lean against the brick building. Mostly because he said he “don’t play like that in the projects.” So, here we are, the three of us leaning against a brick wall in the projects. We notice a van speeding by and the older guy says “I’m keeping my eye on that one.” We see the van speed back by and turn in the parking lot, then pull right back out and drive in front of us. I’m not undercover or anything, but i am starting to feel a little uncomfortable. And by the looks of it, so are my companions.
The older guy points out that it’s starting to get a little dark. With a sigh of relief, I agree and mention the possibility of walking to the next stop. Onward we go. We walk to the next block, turn the corner and are immediately met with a very thin, fragile-looking woman obviously drunk and yelling to someone on the other side of the door, “Why’d you lock the door, biiitch?!” and a string of other obscenities regarding this same situation. Somehow, she stays standing. At least I think she is, I’m trying not to make eye contact. The other two get the same vibe, in silence, we walk in unison and search for the next stop.
The next stop is further than it seems when you’re actually riding the bus, but, we made it. We joined a few already waiting commuters, asked if they’ve been waiting long. They had not. We all feel that this is it, this is where we’ll finally catch the 10. The younger guy has broken away from our little pack and I tell the older guy that “I’ve seen this movie before.” He nicely chuckles and agrees. Here comes the 5th #30 bus and right behind it was our long-awaited #10. No bright light, no halo, no Glory Hallelujah soundtrack.
The older guy smiles and waves his arms for me to be the first to step into our warm chariot. I nod, step up, put my money in the slot and hold my tongue, there is a line waiting behind me and I’m just glad to finally get to sit down. The younger guy finds a seat next to me but on the other side of the aisle. The older guy stops as if to sit near us, but continues to the back of the bus. I almost feel let down. Our little group was starting to disassemble. The younger guy and I chit-chat until we start new conversations with new commuters. Disassembly is complete.
My stop is coming up. I pull the rope, hear the ding, stand up, say good-bye to the young guy. We exchange our “Happy New Year” and that spreads to the lady I was sitting next to, then the lady the young guy is sitting next to, then a few passengers that I pass on the way to the exit. I wish the driver the same “Happy New Year” and I’m off the bus and on the sidewalk. The sky is dark, the bus drives on and pushes the punishingly cold air into my face as I’m trying to get a glimpse of the older guy maybe still on the bus. Nope. And I never found out what he was listening to.
The adventure was over and waiting across the street was my husband. I run across the street as he beeps the horn, knowing full-well that I saw him. I smile and think, I can’t wait to share this story …this mundane story about three commuters waiting for a bus.