BUDDHAS ON THE BUS . . .

I’ve been spending time on the city transit lately, using my Senior Pass to ride the bus to work. Besides saving money and sparing me the daily hustle of finding a parking place on the street, it gives me an opportunity to connect with fascinating people, folks that I don’t normally encounter on a day-to-day basis as I scurry from place to place, shut up in my car, windows rolled up, eyes fixed on the road ahead.

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There was Betty. She sat catty-corner from me, wearing a bulky, leopard-print coat. A flaming pink, wooly hat on her head partially covered a mass of red curls that spilled out onto her shoulders. Yellow and orange striped socks and purple converse sneakers completed her ensemble. A couple of large bags rested on her ample lap.

She made eye contact with me and leaned over, whispering conspiratorially, “I have treasures in here that you could never imagine.” She winked as she patted her overstuffed sacks. I smiled and winked back. “You know,” she continued… “I’m an amazing person, and I’ve decided to run for Mayor. Seriously. I want to do something important with my life. Help people and make a difference in this world!”

“Right on,” I replied. “I’d vote for you! We could use good women in public office.”

She mused, “I might even run for President. Why not. ‘Go big,’ my Mama used to tell me!”

“Absolutely! We definitely need a female president right now. You’d get my vote.”

We chatted a while longer while she reached into her bags to show me her loot. Suddenly, she interrupted our conversation and reached up to pull the cord. “Well, this is my stop. It’s been a pleasure,” she said, as she gathered up her belongings. Walking to the back door, she turned around and looked back. “Don’t forget me. My name is Betty. Who knows… you might read about me one day.” She laughed as she made her way down the stairs.

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There was the stranger who got off at my bus stop one snowy, dark evening with his BMX bike. When the light turned green, I watched as he pushed it across the busy thoroughfare to the other side. I started to slowly follow, head down, clutching my walking sticks as I gingerly made my way across the slick, icy road.

“Madam!” A loud voice pierced the night.

I looked up to see him standing in front of me. He had walked back, and with a dramatic flair, he stuck out his arm. “Allow me, my lady.” I took his proffered elbow, and he proceeded to escort me across the road—whereupon he bowed, tipped his hat, wished me a good evening, and then quietly continued on his way.

“Thank you,” I shouted after him as I watched him disappear into the night.

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Frank and the Buddha.jpgAnd then there was Frank. I boarded my bus and took a side seat near the front. I sat down and leaned back to rest. It had been a long day. I looked across the aisle and saw what appeared at first to be an apparition. Sitting directly opposite me was a man, mumbling to himself while steadying a tall, golden Buddha statue perched on the floor next to him. 

“Whoa. That’s quite an impressive Buddha you got there,” I said, smiling.

He smiled back. “Yeah, well you see… I first tried fifteen, then went for four, and back to eleven, and that didn’t work, so I changed up and decided on thirty…” He paused. “Yep, that’s right. It was thirty that did it. I won a whopping $1500 at the casino, and I got this here Buddha on sale for $250. I’m going to put the rest away in the bank.” He continued. “Basically, I’m a Taoist, but I think Buddha is super cool. I especially liked this one because he has flaws, like me. He’s made of wood, and there are some big chunks missing in the back, but I kind of like it. Seems more real that way. I can relate. What do you think?”

“Well, he’s a beauty all right. I think having your own Buddha could be a game-changer.”

An elderly woman, who’d been listening to this exchange, joined in, giving him a thumbs up. “Damn straight. Your luck is about to change. Yes sir, that’s what I think!”

He leaned over and offered his hand. “I’m Frank. You can take my picture if you want?”

Shaking his hand, I introduced myself. “I’m Candace. I’d love to take a photo of you and your Buddha.”

I left the bus at the next stop and walked home, my heart warm on this frigid day, a smile on my face.

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These brief, but poignant moments on my short bus ride remind me that when I slow down, pause, and take time to notice… my life gets bigger. It’s enriched by diversity, by relating to the magnificence of humanity in all its shapes and colors. This helps me to become more present in my life, less checked out, and to see the sacred in everyone I meet. 

 

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