Bus Stop
A windy morning. I approached the bus stop with hair blowing in my face and the pocket flaps of my new suit fluttering in the breeze. Sitting on the bench was a man whose age is difficult to ascertain. He had a young face, but the dimness in his eyes and his leathery brown skin could easily place him in his late sixties. He noticed me and stared with a vacant, bewildered expression at my fair skin and light hair-- a typical reaction to Caucasians. His baggy blue sweatpants flopped with each gust of wind, revealing very skinny ankles ending in a dirty pair of Reebok's. He turned to a few possessions at his side: a pink translucent cigarette lighter, a can of Coca-Cola, a cafe latte bottle that is obviously not filled with cafe latte, and a clear plastic cup. As he opened the can of Coke the plastic cup was caught by the wind and flew from his hands onto the busy street. To my surprise, the man jumped after it, forcing oncoming traffic to stop or swerve into another lane. The man hardly seemed to notice the cars bearing down on him as he concentrated on following his cup. But the cup eluded him and was crushed under the tires of a minivan. The man looked visibly defeated, as if he had watched a family heirloom be destroyed. But instead of abandoning the cup he continued pursuing the remains and grabbed the now-useless pieces of plastic before returning to the bench. As he sat back down next to his coke and "cafe latte," he nonchalantly let the remains of the cup fall from his hands and float back into the street, pretending not to notice it had happened. Then he mixed some of the coke into the cafe latte bottle, took a swig, and lit a cigarette.

As I watched the man's peculiar behavior I felt a growing abhorrence for him. I moved away from the bench so he wouldn't look at me or try to talk to me. I checked the amount of space there was to walk around the bench once the bus arrived, in case he tried to grab me. I watched in disgust as he drank what was probably some kind of alcohol from the sun-yellowed bottle. I was quietly willing his clear plastic cup to be smashed. I actually felt triumph when the cup was run over, like there was a match between Team Man and Team Cup and the latter won. Yeah, that ought to crush your spirits. That's what you get for being a bum, for freaking me out, for running into traffic. At that moment I hated the man for being an eyesore and myself for being so violently offended by him. Why did I hate this man so much?

When the bus arrived he didn't get on. He also didn't try to grab me as I boarded. He stared vaguely into the distance as the bus drove away and I took my place onboard among businessmen and students, wondering about poverty and compassion in Japan.
written by Ruthie @ 1:27 AM  
2 thoughts:
  • At 5/19/2007 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey! yeah, i know those annoucements drive me crazy... and the weird thing here is that one of the trafic laws is that you cannot beep your horn for more than 1/2 a second, but those freaking things are blaring all the time. crazy.

    anyway, yes, i will be going home soon. i wanted to stay for another year, but it just wasn't possible. i am going back to grad school in minnesota in september, but i still will be writing the blog!

    how long will you be staying?

  • At 5/19/2007 6:36 AM, Blogger Christine said…

    Compassion starts with single people not being freaked out by drunks. It is difficult to be a woman alone and be compassionate to a man acting strangely -- in fact it is dangerous. That begs the question: are we called to be safe?

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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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