I have gone on record many, many times to complain about how much I dislike — I won’t say hate — riding the Bathurst bus. Yeah, it’s convenient. Yeah, it’s just around the corner. Yeah, it gets me to the pool and my old neighbourhood in ten minutes — well, sometimes anyway. But, for all of those yeahs, I have just as many nays. I confess, honestly, that there are times that those nays are caused by my grouchy mood or sore feet or I-should-have-eaten-something low sugar levels but it’s not always my negative humphs that have me wanting to scream out loud during the bumpy crawl down Bathurst to the subway.
This morning, I expected a particularly bad-bad-bad ride since the bus was already packed with winter bundled people. I squeezed my backpack-laden body into a side seat. Across from me were two guys, one of whom refused to uncross his legs making it impossible for folks to get on the bus without tripping over him. I glared at him — he just put sunglasses on and ignored me and everybody else around him. Beside him was another guy who fell asleep immediately which I thought was a very convenient way to keep his seat. I think he was faking it, especially when a woman got on with a stroller and an extra kid in tow. I could tell she was the babysitter and not the mom. She was good though at scoring a seat for the walking-kid and giving enough fishes to the one in the stroller to abate the screams that were trying to creep out of her little, sweet(?) face. I thanked her for that. So now we had an aisle full of hanging folks and a stroller.
Next stop, more people and another stroller with a tinier person in tow. These women should get instant saint-hood just for facing the throng of unhappy, complaining people on buses when they get on. Nobody got up to give the little guy a seat. I asked the mom if she thought he’d sit on my lap, without hesitation she said, “No!” So, instead, I told her that when we got to the next stop, I’d give him my seat. I wasn’t going to get up while that bus was moving. Last week, I scared the beegibbies out of Naoki when I got up too early and would have ended up splayed on the floor of the bus except for some excellently placed hands by the guys in the back seat and a convenient lap that I landed on quite to the shock of the guy who owned it.
So next stop I got up and gave my seat to little Mason. His mom lifted him up and I hung over him like a cloud. I asked him to please hold on tight. He asked me why. Because I don’t want you to fall. I told him I appreciated that. He repeated the word “appreciated”, thought about it and asked me what it meant. I told him it meant I really, really thanked him. We were cool. Next stop a bundle of transit workers got on. I couldn’t take off my backpack so they had to climb over me and the two strollers. I was leaning way over
Mason to get out of the way. He looked up and I said that I was his guardian angel protecting him so none of these people would bump into him. He said, “You’re my angel?” I said for right now that’s what I was. He was still cool.
Next stop the first stroller had to exit. I told her good luck with that. This meant that Mason’s mom had to get off with her stroller. Mason watched what was happening and then he looked up at me and said, “I’m all alone.” He didn’t cry or call out just said those three words solemnly. It reminded me of being little and losing my mom in the crowd of other people’s legs at Lazarus Department Store. I’m sure I cried and called out for her but not Mason. Being a guardian angel, I told him not to worry, his mama was just outside letting the other lady leave, she and his baby sister would be right back. He looked up at me and said, “You’re my angel.” When she got back on, I told her what he had said and she said, “Mason, how could you be alone with all these people?” But I knew what he meant.
When we got to the subway, I told him to ring the bell but his little fingers were too small to press the button so I pulled the cord and told him he did it. Guardian angels have to be inventive sometimes. I helped him off the bus and opened the door for him and his mom. Then she realized there was no elevator so I grabbed the closest young guy and he carried the stroller down the stairs while I walked with Mason counting all 23 steps to the platform. The mom looked at me and thanked me more with her eyes than her words then they were gone. I walked to my train with a light happiness and appreciation for the gift of being on that crowded bus with Mason.