I wait impatiently as the crowds dilly dally their way onto the vehicular kryptonite to my downtown travels. Finally, once everybody is seated and my frustration has run out after missing the green light twice, the bus driver slowly pulls away, giving me the gap to freedom and the freeway.
This happened a few days in a row one week. Around the third day, I got over my first world problems and turned my attention to the bus passengers. I quickly began to realize that they too had been participating in this roadside ritual all week.
Then I started recognizing faces.
I saw him on the crosswalk the next day.
I passed him as he spoke to other passengers on the corner bus stop the next Monday.
I began to look for his presence on this routine street. I saw him today, smiling, as a lady knelt down to give his guiding friend some well-deserved scratches behind the ears. Seeing his regular face, even though he is but a stranger, brings a smile to my face and comfort to my soul as I launch into my hour commute home from work.
I can think back to a lot of people like this in my life: people I never knew but I grew accustomed to their reliable presence day in and day out. There was "Dancing Kid" who passed time waiting for the school bus each morning by dancing to the lively tunes only he could hear. "Sweeping Lady," who lived in a house beneath towering oak trees, spent her mornings ridding the fallen leaves from her home's driveway, no matter how long it took her. On Saturdays, "Old Dog" likes to sleep in the sun on a wide porch somewhere between here and Athens.
Over time, I made connections to these people of my routines to the point where my mornings felt less complete if I missed seeing "Dancing Kid" do his trademark move. In college, I would see the same faces between classes so often and regularly that their strange faces became so familiar, I would forget we didn't actually know each other, even to the point of congratulating someone for finally getting their cast off. High five, strange kid! Oh, and how did that Spanish exam you were studying for go this morning?
Creepy? Probably. But if there is a stranger out there that crosses my path and smiles when they see me swear at the bus line every day, I'm okay with that.