Thursday, November 03, 2011

No Thanks, I'll Stand, or, Welcome to My Psychosis

This morning was just like every other weekday morning, with the requisite trip to the parking lot and the slow walk to the bus platform. There was a bus idling there already but I wasn't about to run for it. Running would mean stopping when I boarded. Stopping when I boarded would mean perspiration dripping off my forehead and soaking into my shirt through the t-shirt underneath. Plus, I dread being "that guy" who makes the bus wait because of my efforts. I especially didn't want to end up on the platform just as the bus was pulling away, with the lucky commuters already on board snickering at my defeat.

Transit Center bus platform, any day.
Despite my casual pace, it was looking like I'd make the bus.  I got to the stairs and it was still there.  I got to the platform and it pulled away. Accepting my situation, I walked over to a bench to sit down next to a guy who also didn't make the bus.  But I didn't see him running. I don't know where he came from.  At that moment, she appeared.

I'd seen the woman many times before. Just one of those faces you recognize in a crowd.  There's nothing special or extraordinary about her. I just always recognized her face. I even noticed when she had her hair completely redone into a different style she still has today. Older than me, though I don't know how much older (because I totally suck at guessing ages). Now that I've returned to the Transit Center after a multi-month exile to the Willowbrook Park and Ride, I found it amusing that her face was one of the first I saw.

She appeared out of nowhere at the far end of the platform, right where the bus was pulling out. She boldly help up her hand in an effort to stop its progress. And it worked. I still didn't move any faster.  I mean, she help the bus for herself.  I didn't want to be the extra guy who holds things up even more.  I've been on the bus when it stops for a straggling commuter and then 3 or 4 other people get on. It's really annoying (though probably only to myself) and I wanted no part of it this morning. But the woman looked at me and waved me to the bus. She offered to share her efforts with me.

Well now I had to board.  And after I did, I turned back to look at the digital sign showing the passenger count.  I was number 59...on a bus that hold 57.  I turned around again and felt everyone's eyes on me. Yeah I'd have to stand.  But where?  In who's personal space would I be encroaching? And that woman...I have to stand all the way into NY because of that woman.

I wonder what she was thinking. She was standing farther towards the back of the bus but didn't make eye contact with me.  In fairness, I wasn't looking at her so it's impossible to know if the previous statement is true. So as I held on to the overhead-luggage-shelf-thingy and played game after game of solitaire, I couldn't stop thinking about the situation into which I had gotten myself. And I wondered what would have happened if the roles were reversed. What if I were the one holding the bus for the woman? Well those who know me know that I'd be completely submerged in guilt. I'd spend the whole trip wondering what she was thinking. How much was she hating me? When do I apologize to her? During the trip?  What if I fell down as I approached her?  What if I banged into other people? What if she ignored my apology and turned her back?  Then I'd have to walk back where I was.  And what if I fell down, get the idea.

It'd be just like me to mean well but to have the results be less than desirable. I'd slow down so someone could make a left in front of me and end up causing an accident.  I'd offer my seat to someone on the subway and then end up spilling coffee on her. And yes, I'd hold the bus for someone who needed to get to work only to find that there were no seats left.  And to make matters worse, I was losing at every game of solitaire I was playing.  I hated that woman. And now we're forever connected by this commute.  We'll make uncomfortable eye contact as if to say, "yeah, I remember you." She always seemed like such a nice woman, too.  Did she even care about what she caused, inadvertently or not?

Upon arrival at Port Authority, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the woman, profusely apologizing. She had no idea there were no seats and she certainly wouldn't have invited aboard if she knew.  I assured her that it was quite alright. But now I was faced with a new dilemma. We're standing in the aisle.  Do I turn my back on her?  Or do I keep facing her?  Then I'd have to keep talking to her.  But I have nothing to say.

All this and it's only 9:30.

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