Sunday, October 22, 2006

BUS STORY # 8, Part 1 (When She Was Good)

Here’s the story: One afternoon, waiting for the Yale bus after work, I was pulled away from my reading by a woman calling me from a car parked in the apartment entrance right by the bus stop where she had pulled in from the street. I looked and saw a young woman, 20s, short blond hair, turquoise T-shirt, motioning me to come over to her car. The car was a sun-blasted silver Toyota, one of the old square ones. I checked for the bus, then walked over to the open window on the passenger side.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “but you just gave me the shock of my life. You look just like my husband. Same build, same clothes, even the hat. It’s amazing! I just dropped him off at the airport and was on my way home when I saw him down here at the bus stop!”

I could relate to that. I have this theory about a cookie-cutter mold and the twelve of us who are . . . oh, never mind. I’d also noted by now that she wasn’t unpretty and she had a nice smile.

She told me she lived out in Stanley which is about 35 miles east of Albuquerque. And it seems she left her purse on the kitchen table and now she wasn’t sure she had enough gas to get all the way back.

Somewhere deep down in my brainstem, a red light began glowing. And that first bit of red was trying to make its way to the surface of my cerebral cortex even as I found myself reaching for my wallet. But: my wallet wasn’t in my pocket.

“I’m sorry,” I told her, “but I don’t have any money on me. When I ride the bus, I don’t carry my wallet. Because I don’t need it,” I explained. This was true. Still is.

She kept right on smiling and told me not to worry about it, she’d get home fine. And she turned the old Toyota around and sputtered it back out onto Yale and headed north. She was still in sight when the red light finally reached the surface. “Oh, she’s good, señor. Really good.”

The next morning I told my co-workers the whole story. The guys in my office caught on as soon as the left-purse-on-kitchen-table part of the story emerged. The women, however, had a fine time with the fact that this 60-something old man didn’t catch on when this 20-something cutie told him how much he looked like her husband.


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