Not getting a seat on the bus, though rare for me, is both frustrating and eye opening. When seated, I usually face forward, catching glimpses of people in my peripheral vision. The negative of standing, besides being more tiring after a long day at work, is that it makes it less easy to read as I have to clutch some handhold to remain upright and alive. I can hold my book with my other hand, but turning pages requires the dexterity of a piano player.
It is not without its positives. Standing affords the luxury of a greater panorama of my fellow commuters. In these people, I see only stories and characters. Sometimes I see women I would like to date–but that’s another story.
A quick survey reveals and assortment of characters. There’s the professionally dressed woman who has ditched her fashionable heels for more comfortable sneakers on the ride home. There’s the tech guy–he’s got a tablet and a phone going at the same time. There’s the guy with the mullet. There’s the guy who smells like rusted metal, as though he has been working with pipes all day. There’s the couple talking too loud, making me reach for my MP3 player, less for the music and more just to block them out. There’s the much older guy wearing his beats headphones. I can’t decide about him. Is he really into his music? Is he trying to be hip? Maybe it was a father’s day gift…maybe he is just cool. I don’t know.
My eyes dart around, trying not to stare but trying to take it all in.
Then I see that person who tells a complete story. She is standing at the back of the bus, gripping the handhold with her right hand, and grasping a box with a ribbon in her left. The box is not wrapped or decorated, so I can only conclude it is a cake. She is about as comfortable as I am. I can tell because whenever the bus comes to stop she takes her hand off the handhold and flexes it gingerly, while adjusting the bag she has slung over her shoulder. She looks around, hoping to anticipate when a seat will become free. Maybe she will catch the person pressing the stop request bell.
I would like to offer her my seat, but I do not have one to offer.
I think about the cake. My stomach rumbles in hunger, but I push that aside. I had better think about dinner before desert. The cake still crowds my brain. It is small, and I dismiss the idea that it could be for a child. Children like big and colourful. This, I suspect, is no less expensive, but more rich in taste, more refined in presentation. My gut says this is an anniversary cake.
The romantic in me goes for the all of the clichés. It is their first wedding anniversary and they don’t have the money to go out for the lavish dinner they think the deserve. They are saving their money to buy a house–and it the GTA (the greater Toronto area), this requires either an amazing salary or an equally amazing inheritance. She has forgone her morning cup of coffee for the past week to get this cake. Nothing says true love like sacrificing your morning cup of coffee.
Before my speculation runs rampant (any more rampant), she gets off the bus and I am left with my assorted characters. A seat frees up near me, and as nobody takes it, I sit and bury myself in my book, forgetting at least temporarily, about my fellow commuters.