Sunday, July 17, 2011

BUS STORY # 245 (Portrait # 13: Wild Bill)

Wild Bill Hickok by busboy4
Wild Bill Hickok, a public domain photo from Wikipedia Commons, uploaded to this blog by busboy4 on Flickr.

She’s a big woman, and she has to be in her 70s. She’s out there most afternoons waiting for the bus, hunched over a four-wheeled walker loaded with groceries.

This particular afternoon, it’s somewhere between 95 and 100, but she’s wearing a brown duster. And red pants. And a straw cowboy hat with a turquoise hatband. A wild spray of long white hair comes streaming out from under that hat in all directions.

I remember the first afternoon it hit me: Wild Bill Hickok! She doesn’t need the moustache. It’s the hat and the hair.

Sometimes the driver puts down the wheelchair ramp. Sometimes the bus is pulled flush with the sidewalk and the ramp isn’t needed. She boards slowly, looking around the piled up groceries and maneuvering the walker through the door and the left turn past the till.

She is always smiling, and she thanks the driver for having patience with her. The folks sitting on the bench seat bail and head for the back. It takes her a while to move herself into a seat, then pull her walker as close to her as she can. The folks on the bench seat opposite her sometimes give her a hand. The driver always waits until she is settled in before pulling back into traffic.

The walker doesn’t quite block the aisle, but it’s an obstruction – which everyone accommodates without complaint. I suspect we’re all thinking the same thing: Here she is, at her age and in her condition, out there taking care of business. And she radiates nothing but a pleasant, positive attitude despite the fact that this can’t be easy. And we, by God, are gonna cut her all the slack she needs.

During the ride to where she gets off, she engages in conversation with the folks across the aisle. Many of these are also regulars, and have gotten to know her.

A mile or so later, we reach her stop. She gathers herself and her walker and groceries together and exits, slowly, patiently, with a kind word of thanks to the driver. I watch her from the window as she hunches over the walker and starts guiding it slowly down the sidewalk. Still smiling.

You bet we’ll wait for you, Wild Bill.


This public domain photo is taken from Wikipedia Commons: File:Wild-Bill-5.jpg


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely, lovely story,
Teary eyed BBBH

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might be my all time favorite. BBBH

9:54 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, Anonymous.

8:57 PM  

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