There’s a cast of regulars on the bus; folks who, like me, are riders rather than drivers. And while we may not know each other’s names, we still like to chat, swap the occasional pithy (no, not lisping) observation, and generally make our ride a little less dull.
Heading to work, a bit after my stop, the bus makes a loop through the local VA hospital. Several folks get off the bus there, either because they’re working or volunteering, or to go in for medical care. This particular location has low-cost apartments for veterans, so there’s also a contingent leaving to do errands or coming home from same. One of the former rides pretty much every day so he can go to the store, get his Sunday paper, etc. He’s in his late 60s or early 70s, I think, and formerly homeless (after his last job ended and he couldn’t find another) — he either spent time in the same shelter I did, or wished he’d been able to get in there instead of wherever he did wind up.
He calls me Red. And we talk fairly often, although nobody get offended if it’s the kind of morning where you just try to catch a touch more shut-eye before really starting your day. Anyway, when he got on the bus today, we commented about the weather: 80s earlier in the week to drizzles and rain and noticeably cool temps. And I mentioned I’d brought my umbrella today after not having it last night and getting drizzled on while I waited for the bus, and when I walked home from the stop. Then he started reading the sports section, and I closed my eyes and zoned out.
On the last leg of the ride to work, a woman I’ve seen most mornings for a while now came over and said, “I heard you say you forgot your umbrella — I have a spare you can have if you want,” pulled a little collapsible version out of her purse and held it out to me. So I said I’d forgotten mine yesterday but had it with me today, thanked her for the very kind offer but said she should hang on to her spare.
And that’s what I’m grateful for today: strangers who see a need and do what they can to help, whether with words or deeds. There were so many times when life was going to, and actively was, crap, that people I didn’t know offered their help, from donating to the vet on behalf of my cats to encouraging me in my job search and reminding me that being homeless didn’t make me something less than human.
I hope I let them know how very much I appreciated it.