Archive for June 23rd, 2011

The other day my job took me into the city via public transit.

I had just taught a unit on public transportation, and wanted to wind up that unit, and the year, with a fun day.

For me, public transit is a blast! It is rare for me, or the rest of my suburban family, to actually need to take public transit. But it is such a fantastic place to people watch! And, let me tell you, this part of the day provided vast amounts of people to watch.

First off, was the bus …

There most people looked like they were walking zombies. I tried, very unsuccessfully, to make eye contact with many … to no avail. To be honest, I am not sure they were really there, maybe their presence on the bus was a figment of my imagination.

But there were two guys get on the bus, probably in their mid-twenties (so, compared to my aged-ness … they were young’uns). They were a little … scary looking (what can I say, I am a middle-aged, female suburbanite). Maybe gang members, maybe homeless … definitely rough and tough (and even a little gruff). So, I kept watching them … when they weren’t looking my way. The bus was filling … fast! Then a woman gets on with a boy who is about four years old. And there is no available seat (and I am too pre-occupied people watching to get off my lazy butt). And one of the rough and tough guys gets up … and looks at the woman … and kindly offers his seat to she and the boy … Be still my heart! Kind, genteel, gentlemen do still exist … even if they look too scary to make eye contact with.

Later in the day I was on the bus, and saw someone that, lets face it, we have all encountered. It is the he/she. I glanced in his/her way off and on for about ten minutes, trying to ascertain whether he was a he, or if she was a she (this is not an easy feat, as there seems to be an unwritten rule about public transit, that one must not make eye contact with … anyone else). Clothing gave no indication, hairstyle gave no indication, and I wasn’t close enough to decide based on voice. I couldn’t see any indicators of shaving, or … female upper body development … I was left with the mystery of never knowing …

Lesson #1 … you can’t read a book by it’s cover …

Then there was my faux pas (okay, so it wasn’t my one and only faux pas, as I already was trying to make eye contact like a timeshare salesman in Mexico, with anyone and everyone … which reminds me of the time hubby and I were in Mexico, walking along a busy tourist street. The timeshare salespeople are yelling and beckoning and flattering everyone who doesn’t look Mexican. And this one is yelling, obviously to hubby, “hey Meestir”, but MY hubby is a smart one … and he just pretends to not hear him. Then, same guys yells, “hey Meestir, your shoelace is untied” and MY hubby looks down, and then we hear, “I knew you could hear me.” … but, I digress).

As the bus lunged forward and then back, at a stop, I absentmindedly reached for the pole in front of me, and my hand brushed the behind of the guy in front of me … let me tell you, I know how to go from pale to crimson in milliseconds! Fortunately, he just turned towards me, and smiled graciously … probably more like, he thought it was hilarious that someone so old could still blush!

Lesson #2 … look before you reach …

There was this adorable little baby. He looked like he had just awakened from a nap. He and his mom/nanny appeared to be Chinese, and he had the most delightful cheeks! As his eyes scanned the other occupants of the bus, his face was without emotion, without expression. His stare was met with equally tired eyes, smiles, and grown adults making faces at him, (that made them look like a side show at the circus). The only expression close to a smile from him was to his ugly, well worn teddy bear.

Lesson #3 … beauty is in the EYE of the beholder …

Then there was the cute Korean couple. They looked to be early twenties, and so very eager to touch hands, to talk, to make eye contact … with each other. I really do not think they were at all aware that there was anyone else on the planet, let alone on the bus. Now I don’t mean they were clinging to each other, and to look at them was to watch saliva being shared from one to the other. I mean they were simply in the bubble of ‘each other’, simply so delighted just to be … together.

Lesson #4 … few things can make one smile like love in the other persons eyes …

except maybe … a little girl?

And finally, the best moment of my day of public transit …

A VERY pregnant woman (I kept my cell phone in my hand, in case she went into labor right then and there), with a cute little girl, wearing a dress, white tights, and her curly blond hair up in a ponytail. The moment they boarded the bus is so memorable, because something about them drew the attention of almost everyone else on the bus.

People whose eyes had barely left their shoes, were watching. People who had been muttering to themselves, hushed, and just watched. The lady in her perfect figure and expensive yoga wear, looked up from her meditation, and smiled. The really good (I mean REALLY good) smelling guy, with the expensive-looking suit, moved well out of the way as they moved down the aisle, to their seat, as though he was making room for royalty. The older lady who had spent a full two and a half minutes (I admit, I timed her …) searching her change purse for her bus transfer, looked up at the pair and stared, as though their appearance into her day took her to another time, another place. Then there was me … and my first moment of watching them, I was taken back, to years past when sleep was rare, but life was wonder-filled, simple and innocent.

I do not know what it was, exactly, that caught the attention of so many on the bus that day. Maybe it was the beauty of new life, maybe it was how clean, how fresh they looked in the dirty, metal bus. Maybe everyone else on that bus was waiting for the ladies water to break. Or, maybe it was something ‘out of this world’. Maybe there is universal kindness, universal instinct to protect those who might be vulnerable.

Whatever it was, it was a wonderfilled moment for me. And it encouraged me to spend more time people watching.

Lesson #5 … the best of all that is created, is probably the best way to see the beauty of the Creator …


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