Sunday, October 18, 2009


BUS STORY # 155 (Portrait # 5: Immigrant Kids)


A group of high school students boards at Louisiana. A bunch of them – six, to be exact, four boys and two girls – sit in the two bench seats in front of me and in the two seats across the aisle from me.

I go back to my magazine, but find myself halfway watching and listening. In a few minutes, I sense there’s something different about these kids, but what?

I lower the magazine and start paying attention.

The first thing I notice is their clothes. I see the usual jeans and jackets, shirts and blouses, except, except . . . something is slightly off key. They’re neat and clean. They’re colorful, and put together as if which colors look good together matters. Everything is tucked in. So what is it about these clothes that make them like RC Cola to Pepsi – close, but no cigar?

I move on to their hair. Hmm. Not a single one of them has that slept-in-all-night-and-just-rolled-out-of-bed look. Instead, the guys look like they’ve taken some pains to look fashionable. The girls’ hair is pretty conventional – one with hair neatly pulled back in a luxurious ponytail, the other with shoulder-length hair flipped at the shoulders.

OK. I’ve snapped that I am on to something here. What is it?

Big clue: They’ve been in animated discussion with one another ever since boarding the bus. All six are leaning in toward one another, and I’ve spotted the two wits in the group. One of them is the girl sitting in front of me. The other is the guy sitting across from her. The conversation is non-stop, and: It is good natured. There is a lot of laughter, no edginess. Everybody has something to say.

And – D’oh! I’ve got it! – it’s all in a differently accented and very rapid-fire Spanish – I can’t really make any sense of what they’re saying. And I hear no English whatsoever except for the name of the high school they’re heading for.

They’re immigrant kids. New ones, of course, because despite their obviously studied attempts to look American, they still stand out from the crowd.

It isn’t until later that I realize I missed the dead-giveaway clue: They were all carrying books.
__________

The photo at the top of this story is titled Bus Stop and is posted with the kind permission of zzelfozz. zzelfozz notes the image was published as a cover for the Italian literary magazine LINEA D'OMBRA founded by Elfo. You can see this and all zzelfozz's photos on Flickr at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30279301@N05/2837310276/

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, well-told. Good obversation. BBBH.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, BBBH.

8:16 PM  

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