Making Connections on the Bus

“I found these on the sidewalk” he said through alcohol saturated breath as he proudly showed off the cellophane wrapped bundle of carnations with their tips glowing hues of red and yellow. “Nice” I replied, hoping that would be the end of it and went back to frying my brain with social media. He wasn’t done. “They’re usually $8.99 at 7-Eleven” he continued. “Do you think she’ll like them?” I barely heard him ask the question and I didn’t answer it, but something compelled me to put away the iphone and give him my attention. I never learned his name, but within just 15 minutes as we swayed, squeaked, and pinged through the many stops leading to mine along the #12 route, I connected with him more than I could have possibly imagined.

I agreed with him when he stated how cold it was and that he should probably get a new pair of gloves. He had lost his at some point, most likely at a friend’s place, but he wasn’t sure. I celebrated with him when he told me that had won $614 playing Keno. I commiserated with him when he taught me that “anything over $600 requires that you find a way to Salem in order to claim it”. I laughed with him when he told me that the lottery officials took his photo, complete with a desert oasis backdrop, for their “winner’s circle” marketing campaign and it was now posted in the bar where he had won. “You wouldn’t believe how many people hit me up for money after that! It was gone fast.” I smiled with him as he reminisced about how he and the love of his life had run off to Las Vegas to get hitched and then enjoyed “a great life together” living in SW Portland. I said “I’m so sorry” when he shared that his wife, who had been an emergency room nurse, died at the age of 49 due to complications from the diabetes she had suffered since childhood. I touched his arm and said “it’s ok” as he apologized profusely for his tears. I just listened as he told me he had fallen into a battle with alcohol and then homelessness after her death.

When my stop came, I stood, put my hand on his shoulder and said “Take it easy”. He grabbed my hand and replied “God bless you. Thank you for listening to me”. As the bus pulled away and I made my way up the street, I started to cry. I cried for him, his wife, and because of what I wish I would have said “Yeah, I think she’ll like them”.


27 thoughts on “Making Connections on the Bus

  1. Beautiful. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t normally get moved by stories, but you got me here. Keep writing, but don’t blame yourself for not answering his question–you didn’t know his story. But this will definitely keep my mind aware that someone always needs someone to talk to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. efrompdx says:

    Public transportation is a goldmine! For story material and germs!

    That was very moving, Chris. It’s true that everyone has a story and we are often too busy to listen. Beautifully written.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: A Beautiful View of India and Other Great Blogs | BEAUTIFUL WORDS

  4. You’ve very beautifully written this touching experience. It is so unfortunate that these gadgets are keeping us away from human interactions, when they are built with the intentions of keeping in constant touch with ppl.
    People ‘ listen’ very seldom. I always think that sometimes you don’t want to find answers, you don’t want suggestions, opinions , criticisms, appreciations, but you just want someone to Listen to u. When you are talking , you talk something you already know, but when you listen, you might know something new.
    Very gald u did that n shared it with us.
    Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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