I cross the street and tap my way towards the bus stop. A young man stands there already, looking down the road at the bus that is approaching. It is still a few blocks away. I can’t tell which route it is even with my monocular.
“Excuse me,” I say to him, leaning on my cane, “Can you tell which bus that is?”
He does not say anything. He watches the moving traffic. Cars brake for the red light on our block and line up in neat rows.
I study his back. I spot white cords and assume earbuds. He isn’t ignoring me; he just can’t hear me. I am close enough to reach out and touch his shoulder, but I don’t want to startle him. Instead, I hold my monocular up to my eye and wait for the bus to move closer so I can read the route number.
“Young man,” A lady says out the window of the minivan in front of us, “Young man, that lady asked you something.”
He turns in shock, sees me, and rips out the earbuds.
“Do you know which bus that is?” I say to him, pointing at the vehicle in the distance.
“53,” he says, nodding. I thank him and explain I’m waiting for a different one. I’m not sure what to do about the lady. I smile and give the thumbs up sign to the minivan, unaware if it was the driver or a passenger that hollered out the window. I nod at the young man as I take a seat.
Do a lot of people look over at me on the bus stop bench as they idle at the stoplight? I wonder if people have started to recognize me as they drive past every afternoon.
His bus arrives, but the young man notices another bus in the distance. Before he boards, he turns to me and says, “That’s another 53 next.”
I smile and tell him thanks. The bus rolls away, and I think about the kindness of strangers.