Sunday, May 18, 2014

BUS STORY # 393 (Missionaries)

The Book of Mormon Bus - 1st Sighting,” © All Rights Reserved, a photograph by Neilsonabeel.

One of the bus blogs I enjoy reading is BUSNINJA. I don’t know who BUSNINJA is, but I’ve worked out from reading the blog that he lives in Utah County which includes Provo, which is where I’m guessing he lives. I know he is passionate about public transportation in general, and about the Utah Transportation Authority in particular, which serves Provo and, to the north, Salt Lake City and Ogden.

I also know he is passionate about classical music. I know he and his wife (“commutergirl”) have just had a baby (“Baby”). And I know he’s a Mormon.

This last fact accounts for how I came by this particular bus story.

I’d gotten on the 11 after picking up an onion from Sprouts on my way home from a conference. Once I sat down, I saw the two kids sitting on the bench seat behind the driver.

Mormon missionary kids for sure. It wasn’t just the uniforms -- one in black slacks, black jacket, the other in brown slacks and gray sweater, both in bright white shirts and striped ties. It was also their overwhelmingly young and wholesome and inexperienced, clean-cut look.

I figured they must not have been in the field long, because they both looked a little uneasy, a little fearful, as if they were new to using the bus, or were nervous about the kinds of folk they’d heard did use the bus, or maybe both. Or maybe they just hadn’t gotten over dreading the whole door-to-door thing yet.

They sat up straight in their seats, and looked straight ahead, and sometimes at each other. They didn’t talk to each other, and they didn’t change expressions.

We’ve all been there: far away from home and insecure about our surroundings and not sure what we should do when. I thought about that, and I thought about BUSNINJA, and I decided I should break the ice.

I moved up to the first row seat facing the bench, leaned forward, and asked if they were from Salt Lake. The guy in the gray sweater told me he was from Idaho. The guy in the black jacket said he was from Salt Lake. I told them about BUSNINJA, about how he was a Mormon who wrote a blog I liked to read about the public transportation system there.

I asked if either of them was familiar with him. They weren’t, of course. I didn’t expect them to be. I was thinking it was a nice way to link the bus with Mormon and home in a way that acknowledged them in a welcoming manner.

“What’s his name again?” the guy in the black jacket asked. He’d turned in his seat to look at me now, and his face had unlocked a bit, some curiosity showing through a mixture of confusion and apprehension.

I explained I didn’t know his real name, but only his blogger name. I told him I knew from the blog that he and his wife just had a baby, and that I thought he was smart and thoughtful and funny all at the same time.

That’s all we had time for. We reached their stop, and they got off. But we exchanged good byes and good lucks. Not exactly a phone call from home, but I thought BUSNINJA would have appreciated the gesture -- which really wouldn’t have been made had I not been a regular reader of his blog. I kind of feel like we made contact.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “The Book of Mormon Bus - 1st Sighting,” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the permission of Neilsonabeel. You can see all Neilsonabeel’s photos on Flickr here.


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