The bus is not only late, it’s full.
Of course, the later a bus is, the more people are waiting for it.
Minneapolis is just days away from an official declaration of summer. Bare-limbed and light-headed, we grin at each other. Look at us! We’re not wearing hats and we’re not cold!
We’ve shed our winter skins, the layers of down, of fleece and flannel.
What’s a little late bus between like-minded folk such as we?
Eventually, of course, the bus arrives; and I take a seat at the front. It’s not my preferred location – I would rather be seated near the video cameras, just in case things get weird – but we don’t always get what we want.
I am humming “you can’t always get what you want” when I first note the man across from me.
He has a full plate of Chinese food on his lap.
And he is sitting directly under the “No Smoking, No Loud Music, No Food” sign.
A full plate of Chinese.
Not a take-out container.
I frown, quickly place the first two fingers of my right hand over the ever-deepening furrows between my eyes. Did he walk out of a buffet with this platter?
This bus is giving me wrinkles.
People! What’s the point of a little picture of a plate of food with a line running through it if one can just board a bus, willy-nilly, with Combination #4?
Aside from that, and in the paraphrased words of fourth grade teacher Miss Staples: did he bring enough for everyone?
The rest of my commute is consumed with this thought. What’s this world coming to, when one is free to choose which posted rules one obeys? What’s to keep me, for instance, from lighting up, right here, perhaps while playing – audibly! – any number of my phone’s available ring tones?
My bus stop is next, and with these thoughts I rise, only to lurch forward awkwardly, twisting my ankle and stumbling into the aisle.
And Chinese Food Man leaps to his feet, balancing the plate in one hand and catching me under the arm with the other.
He grins at me. And gratefully, I grin back.
“Careful there, hon,” he says. “Don’t want to see you get hurt now.”
Hey. This guy wants to eat his dinner on the bus? Well that’s okay with me.