When I came out on to Market Street, I saw that it had started to rain during the two and a half hours I’d been in the dentist chair. It was about quarter to five and Friday evening traffic was heavy. A dark, wet early December end of the work week.
I walked down 38th Street to Chestnut to wait for the #21 bus. Traffic was heavy, but the rain wasn’t. Sporadic, but cold. The #21 bus is scheduled to come about every 10 minutes at that hour. I waited close to 20. It seemed like 40. When I finally saw the bus coming down Chestnut, I saw another #21 bus directly behind. Something must have happened to delay the first one. By this time my feet were starting to feel the cold creeping up from the sidewalk.
Luckily there were a couple of elderly/handicapped seats open as I got on. Even had arm rests to help me get back up. As I looked across the aisle, the middle-aged lady with a walker in front of her was sleeping soundly. Most of the people in the regular passenger seats near her were also huddled and cuddled. They looked like they were getting some rest after a long day at work.
Something about that scene. Something about the warmth inside the bus. Something about the lights coming on and off as people got on and off. Something gave me a feeling of comfort, of resting in a safe place. This feeling stayed with me all the way down Chestnut, and even for the 15 minute wait in the rain to connect with the #7 bus.
On reflection I think the scene on the #21 bus yesterday brought me back to my childhood. From about the age of 7 until I finally got my license at 18, I traveled around the old industrial city of Bridgeport, Connecticut on the public bus. Many winter evenings I sat or stood in a bus full of adults coming home from work. My strongest and fondest memory of such an evening was the time my father got on my bus when I was coming home from the North End Boys Club. I think my mother must have needed the car that day.