Random encounter on the bus yesterday on the way home. The bus was a little crowded, enough that I thought the bus driver might not let us on, but he started to lower the lift for me and to ask some folks to move back. As he did, an older woman with a walker came up and I fell back a bit to let her get on first (on the theory that I am sitting down, she is standing up, let her get settled). She nodded at me in a very definitive way as if to say, “CORRECT”.
But the bus driver even more correctly said, No, wheelchair first, and I realized that if the lady with the walker got on first I would not be able to go past her easily to get into the wheely spot because of the particular configuration of the bus, so I got on first (with some attempt at conciliating explanation ) As I settled into a seat and pulled my scooter into the little open slot next to it I realized I should save the empty seat next to me for her because she was very short and the other open seat near the front was the kind over the wheel well that is a few inches higher (too high for my feet to reach the ground if I sat there) So I stopped a middle school kid from sitting next to me. Walker lady saw this with a keen eye and sat with me triumphantly. Ada came to stand behind my scooter with her back against the upturned seats, messing with her phone.
We smiled at each other a lot. She then pointed out that my red flowers on my scooter matched her red walker and jacket. I agreed and said I like bright things. “This is from Guatemala (her bag), This is from Mexico (her brightly flowered huipil) This is from Peru (her woollen striped headband) And me, from Mexico” I admired her colorful ornamentation and said where I was intending to get off. She was going to play bingo at the church on Cortland. I told her about the free tai chi classes at the neighborhood center across the street.
During the bus ride every time someone new got on she quickly assessed the seating situation and decided where the new people should go. And she made it happen with very little English – and perfect confidence – in fact we both conspired (in a way hard to describe but which meant we had to both indicate with body language that people were welcome to go past us or that we could slightly move our machinery around and back again). Her bus-packing logic was impeccable, factoring in frailty, youth, and encumberment.
On this bus, I generally get off at 30th Street because it’s a more major stop than the one a bit closer to my house, and more people get on and off there. If I wait for the closer stop, then the bus fills up and I have to make my wheely way past many people’s toes, so it’s better to leave during the period of greater churn. I would have liked to explain my reasoning to the maestra of bus loading but instead wished her luck at bingo.
“Do you see that lady a lot?” Ada asked me once we were on the sidewalk. No — I just somehow loved her instantly because she was so cheery, and also because she was super into figuring out bus seating optimization. 😀 That’s my story…. It is uneventful – but I enjoyed the entire thing.
Also! That was a particularly decent bus driver to let us both on without fuss and I intend to compliment him through the 311 system.