I love my city.
Today I boarded the downtown bus for the quick, 8 minute commute. The bus is a fascinating place to learn Portland culture. My bus line generally has a mix of professionals, college students, and … quirky people.
I remember one morning there was a young man and woman with a small baby. The entire ride, they talked loudly to the bus driver about a variety of issues they were facing. I guess they thought they had a captive audience, and they didn’t hesitate to overshare. They got off on my bus stop, and I smiled warmly. They weren’t so interested in talking to me. I don’t blame them. I’m not the one that just got them safely from point A to point B.
On this morning’s ride, there was a lovely woman who happened to be special needs. She wore a lilac rain jacket, and seemed to be making her way around the city just fine. As I was boarding, she was leaned over a man who was seated. She was pointing to her eye, asking him if he could see anything. I assumed they were riding together until he quickly turned away.
Undeterred, the woman made her way up to the bus driver where she settled in for a morning chat. She told the driver that this was her birthday month.
“It is?” he politely responded.
She went on to share that this year, she had told her mom, she wanted to go to Fiji.
“The Island?” the driver asked, bemused.
The woman quickly corrected him - she was of course referring to the restaurant in Sherwood. Last year she had a pizza party, but this year, she told her mom, she wanted Fiji. Her birthday is on the 14th.
“Valentine’s Day!” the driver pointed out.
She smiled. She was clearly encouraged by his acknowledgment of her special day. She has some bumps on her face, she said. Her train of thought taking a sharp left turn. She didn’t used to have the bumps on her face, but she got them while she was in Foster Care. She’s going to be turning 31.
“You’re getting old,” the driver playfully reported.
She smiled again. She wanted to know about laser eye surgery, and whether or not it hurts.
Their conversation continued for several minutes. I left while they were still talking. At no point did I sense that the driver felt bothered. If anything, it seemed he appreciated the company. His warmth and kindness were contagious.
There are lots of reasons I love Portland. My bus driver is one of them.