Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Occasion to Write

I saw the most affected young woman at the bus stop today.

I should state at the outset that I don’t ride the bus -- no, indeed, I have nothing to do with it, apart from recently finding its regular stops a great gathering point of interesting personalities. Over time, I assume, I should get to better know the faces and manners of the people who wait, but I’ve only recently discovered this treasure trove of worthy subjects for observation.

I made my way toward the bus stop shortly after lunch, as I’ve usually got a half hour or so to wander before returning to the grind in our 8th floor office. As I approached, I noticed a lady nervously fixing her shirt, only to take off into a brisk walk around the shelter. I thought nothing of it at that point. I sat in my favorite spot beneath the skywalk where the shade is cool and the breeze pleasant, and I eased back against the cement pillar, meditating to the sound of traffic motoring down Main Street.

As I let my worries waft away in the breeze, I noticed the peculiar behavior of the nervous bus-waiter again. She paced, not only around the shelter in circles, but up and down along the grass, looking about in every direction, intently fiddling with a particular lock of hair. She looked at her watch only once, so I don’t believe her to have been in a great hurry, but I began to wonder with some curiosity what had her in such a fuss. She stopped pacing not once, and it looked quite nearly like she was fleeing, the way she looked about herself, as though she was waiting for some well-known danger to creep out from behind a bush in the adjacent park and make a mad charge toward her.

Each time she paced up and down, her steps brought her a bit nearer to my sitting spot, but never closer than twenty yards or so, while in vain I hoped she would find it in her to make her way toward me enough for a reasonable address. That wouldn’t be so, though, as whatever had her in this fit occupied her mind totally. She noticed hardly a thing, and I daresay she even overlooked my rather intent staring (which, of course, I can’t help, as much as I try). I wanted her to approach and ask for directions or, as I fancied beyond reason, to spill her entire misfortune upon me so that my curiosity would be fulfilled. Perhaps it was no misfortune, after all -- she may have only had a particularly strange way about her, in which case, I’d have been equally glad to know it.

As my wonder grew in intensity, I heard some commotion behind me. Two school-aged boys walked past, and behind them, three or four more. Behind those, there were seven, and beyond-- the entire bus stop was soon overwhelmed with children as two orange school buses arrived to load them up. I was quite overwhelmed, myself, and by the time I gathered my wits, the fretful woman had disappeared in the throng. A city bus, robbed of its rightful place by these brightly-colored intruders, soon pulled up behind them, and as the nervous lady suddenly flew past me and into it, I could only think to myself in a flutter that if she was, indeed, behind schedule or in flight, I should perhaps not see such an interesting character again. If, on the other hand, she was only odd, our paths may yet cross sometime down the road.

I've just finished Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed it far more than I should probably admit. The characters were absolutely lovable (most, at least), and the one with whom I most identified ended up quite happy in the end. Not only that, but it inspired me to a bit of wordplay, which you've so graciously skimmed above. I might not should put my wordplay in a public place for fear of coming across as pretentious, but be assured, that was not my intent. Goodness knows I don't normally write like that, though I may start...