Let me just start out by saying that commuting by bus from the suburbs BLOWS. I’m about ready to throw in the towel with this whole “living in the suburbs” bit. The highlight of my day: a sweet young girl engaged me in conversation on the bus. Hang on, though. I need to vent.
I used to recoil at the sight of the massive spider webs embalming the pathway from the front door to my car. Now, i’m so pissed off (at the spiders, at nature, at my beep-beep-beep-heavy-machinery-backing-up-at-7-am-neighbor, at the fact that the first thing I see when I walk out my front door is a half dead monkey tree limb laced with webs and spiders the size of my eyeballs, about my too-small kitchen sink and my too-big “camp style” bathroom, about the utter lack of foresight that dictated the position of all the freakin’ light switches in this house) that i just machete right through them with my bare arms. Anyone observing from afar might think a) i have a hard time regulating the swing of my arms when i walk, b) that i’m practicing my judo chop on invisible sparring partners or that c) i’m stark raving mad.
I had to wait an extra forty minutes for the bus home because i finished work late and the buses run with less frequency after commuting hours. And this after a long and tedious day of work. The only thing that kept from going on a killing spree was the book about organic gardening i read while waiting.
The odd highlight of the day was talking to a young girl on the bus on the way in to the city. I didn’t realize until a few minutes into the convo that she was with a group of special needs kids. She shyly asked me if it was okay if she talked to me. Of course, I said. She started in on a story about how she’d won the plastic bracelet she was wearing at a carnival. I was just about to get a closer look when someone from the back of the bus hissed her name and told her to not talk to me. The voice said something like “What did we say about talking to people?” The girl tucked her chin into her neck and paused for a moment – but then she kept on going. Again, the voice from the back of the bus said the girl’s name, adding “This is your last warning”. The girl and I looked at each other; I patted her hand and said, “it’s okay- you can tell me another time. I don’t want you to get in trouble.” I turned and faced forward so she wouldn’t be tempted… but, as we drove along, i kept wondering why this girl needed to be silenced by her authority figure. What she prone to violence or outbursts? She seemed so incredibly innocent and demure… The worst part about it was that I could tell she was used to being told to shut up- but that didn’t stop her from trying to make friends on the bus anyway. I don’t know much about what it’s like to take care of a special needs kid… or what this girl’s particular story was- but it sure didn’t seem like she was hurting anyone by yakking on the bus (hell, it beats staring out the window at the cargo containers on the port). I kept thinking, as I exited the bus and started my walk to work, about how she was being treated like a criminal for talking to me. I don’t mean to turn this into a soapbox moment… but i sorta had this refrain going through my head… something like “what the world needs now/is talking on the bus/sweet talking on the bus”. Maybe that girl’s story would have made some morning commuter’s day… It just seemed, given that the rest of this city’s inhabitants can’t seem to make casual eye contact with one another on the streets (Chicago? Five gold stars for you for your pedestrians’ AWESOME sidewalk-side manners. ) that a little light convo on the bus is just what we need to make being crammed in there a little more palatable. I hope she got to tell her story to someone today…