The city, of course, puts you among people. And in the city you have to be a little richer to buy space between you and your neighbors. The less you have the more you are squeezed out and among the general populace. One great example of this is turning out to be my morning commute.
For example, yesterday I left my apartment and began walking the one and a half blocks to my bus stop. As I near the crossing my bus flies by me. I begin to run. If any aged ladies are getting on the bus I have a chance. So, my backpack is “fwipping” back and forth in that most ungraceful way we all remember from high school, my toes are trying to hang on to my cute little work flats, THEE pair of work flats, and I realize I’m going to miss the bus. At this moment some kind stranger looks up from his handheld device, notices that I am hurrying, panicked, frenzied, and then, and then (!) makes like he’s getting on the bus. He pretends to step up, he vacillates, glances forward at the driver, and steps off as I run up. “Thought that would give you enough time,” he said. “Thank you!” I said. I was on the bus! Way to go humanity.
Now, the church offices are off a lovely street called Van Ness. It happens to be a wide street and one of the main thoroughfares funneling homeless citizens toward the center of town where reside most of the “product” and the services. The five block walk to work can be, therefore, occasionally eventful.
As I’m walking the five blocks towards the offices I am paused at a crosswalk across from a colorfully dressed woman. Now, I have just finished reading an article on the new Japanese decluttering craze that judges a keeper based on joy and that’s what I’m thinking about looking at this woman, that she is dressed for joy. Every item is a different color bright against the others, artfully arranged, I smile. It isn’t until I notice the teddy bear clutched inside her arm that I also realize that this outfit is probably more appropriately chosen by my four-year old then a middle-aged woman and her teddy bear.
But I’ve been looking at her from behind my sunglasses too long. As I pass her after the light turns green she mumbles under her breath, “Keep moving bitch.” I stopped. “Are you talking to me?” I said, “Because I was just thinking…” Now, this is the part where I am going to tell her all about the new Japanese decluttering craze and how she looks like she dressed based purely on joy. Remember I have been bolstered by humanity just moments ago. But she opens her mouth and proves that there is no joy in her. I am raked over the proverbial coals. I AM the f…ing bitch. Osama bin Laden is mentioned. I’m laughing and smiling awkwardly as this woman continues on her way cursing me over her shoulder. Two cars slow down as they turn the corner to lean out their windows and ask if I’m alright. The neighbor outside his mechanic shop said, “So, I guess you got her wrath.” “Is she a regular around here?” I ask, “I’ve never seen her before.” He shrugs.
I have seen her since, trundling down the street, dressed in joy, with a mouth full of curses. Would you believe that the last time I saw her Osama Bin Laden was mentioned again?
Humanity, you contain a lot.