People I Barely Know #2

The day after Thanksgiving I got to the bus stop early and wound up getting coffee at the gas station and saying hi to Gina. She was cheery and listening to pop songs from the 1950s. Three young men came in while I was there, and each one asked after Gina’s Thanksgiving with great politeness.

When I paid for my coffee, I told Gina I liked her music. She clasped her hands to her breastbone and said, “Don’t you just feel transported to a high school dance?”

The bus stop usually has several people standing around and drifting like zombies from their cars in the park n’ ride. Today it was just me and a woman I’d never seen before. Like me, she was in her thirties and had brown hair, a red wool coat, and red eyeglasses. We blinked at each other. Suddenly, I worried the bus wasn’t coming.

The bus did come, with only five people on it. As we barreled along on the freeway I peeked out at the waning moon. The driver was whistling an old-timey tune. I couldn’t put my finger on which one. At one of the first downtown stops, the other woman in the red coat got off at the front of the bus.

“You working retail today?” The driver asked. She looked startled, then replied that she was. “OK,” he said, “Just remember to breathe. You’ll get through the day.”

The bus swung south on Second Avenue. The Smith Tower looked so beautiful, lit up at the end of the street. Behind it, the sky had turned that blue a shade lighter than navy.

I asked the driver what he was whistling. He said he didn’t even know. He said, “Whatever was on the radio before I fell asleep, probably.” He said it just relaxed him.


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