For the first time in a while now I’m completely dependent on Tri-met for my transportation needs. Now, I count myself extremely fortunate to live in a city where relying completely on public transportation is even a viable option… but it does make life interesting. I also count myself as extremely fortunate not to have to work right now, because if I had to run all my errands after working an 8 hour day, I can assure you that these stories would be far less ‘interesting’ and rather more ‘infuriating’.
Last week I was riding back to downtown on the 12. It was not a peak commuting time so the bus was somewhat empty.
Ok – a (not so) quick aside, I am a total bus dork, and I have a favorite seat. Well, I have a favorite seat on the new buses. On the old buses, pretty much all the seats are the same… but in the new buses the section behind the back door is elevated (to make room for the wheel well & all that stuff I guess). Anyway… ALL (save one) of the window seats on the new buses have compromised leg room. There’s some weird indention that makes it so that you can’t just sit with your feet straight in front of you – your foot closest to the window needs to slide over a bit – which I guess normal people don’t really care about. But it bugs me, and there are only TWO window seats on the new buses that have full leg room – they are in the back section, the second row behind the back door. And actually, the one on the right side has a weird box thing on the floor. Which I think makes an excellent footrest – so that is my #1 favorite seat on the bus. My #2 favorite seat on the bus is the identical seat on the left (which has full leg room and no box). In my aspergers-esque mind – it is a GOOD DAY if I get to sit in either of those seats and a VERY GOOD DAY if I can sit in my favorite spot. I’ll sit in anywhere if there aren’t a lot of options, but seriously – favorite spot. I get a little cranky if someone beats me to it.
In addition to having full leg room (and a foot rest in the case of #1 favorite seat), I get a pretty good view of everything that’s going on in the bus. So when you read my stories about the bus – imagine me sitting up there in the back, leaning against the window, right foot on foot rest, probably attempting to read.
So anyway… I was riding the 12 back into town and there was a Middle Eastern looking Muslim woman sitting at the front of the bus in the sideways facing “honored citizens” seats – her infant son was in a stroller in the aisle. There were only a handful of other people on bus (so the stroller wasn’t a nuisance). The baby was fussy, despite his mom’s attempts to calm him – rubbing his belly, shushing him or stroking his cheek - he was just fussy. It was the end of the day, and he was clearly done with sitting in his stroller. He’d arch his back and squeal loudly, then his mom would try to distract him for a minute. Nothing seemed to be working. She rummaged around in her purse and found a pen. She waved it in front of him and he was temporarily distracted. Of course he grabbed it, and seeing that this quieted him down, she let him have it. Now if you have ever seen a human child – you know exactly what happened next. He threw it down. Then he started to squeal again. A white teenage boy sitting a few rows back, got up, picked up the pen and handed it back to the woman with a smile as he went to exit the bus.
The woman tried distracting her squealing son with the pen again, and again he grabbed it – played with it for a few quiet seconds, then threw it down again. This time it was a young black man who got up, picked up the pen and handed it back to the woman, then sat down again within arms reach of any more pen-throwing the little boy might do. And I just thought to myself… you know, it’s times like this when I think everything’s going to be okay. When safe & well fed I think the basic instinct of humanity is to just be nice to each other – regardless of differences in race or creed. And I felt a lot better about the world… or at least that tiny little slice of the world at that moment.