The bus is a mess.
And why shouldn’t it be? It’s rush hour, after all, and we’ve packed ourselves in, a random sampling of Midwestern commuters.
Women seasonally ensconced in mobile sleeping bags?
Teenagers wearing giant panda heads for hats?
Random dudes of all ages dressed, so help me, in shorts and windbreakers?
Anecdotal evidence would lead one to believe that bus ridership goes up in the winter – or perhaps it’s just that we all appear to be so much bigger, what with our overstuffed coats and our giant panda headgear; and so I am relieved to have a window seat.
I am staring straight ahead when they get on at the Light Rail stop.
There has been damage, somewhere along the line, to this couple. Not born to it, perhaps, but acquired during a car accident, maybe. I imagine that the world appears to them as if it is underwater, or possibly as if viewed through a mist. They move slowly, looking for seats together.
There haven’t been two open seats next to each other for at least five blocks.
The man across the aisle from me stands, calling “Back door!” and exits. Through experience, I know his stop is not for another two blocks, but I’ve seen this before. He’s making room.
The man who had been seated next to him stands, moves toward the exit. “I need to stretch,” he says to the couple.
They move to the seats. “Affa you,” the man says. The woman smiles. She sits, proclaims, “I’m hungry!”
They both laugh.
And I smile and use a finger to draw a smiley face on the fogged window next to me.