The bus almost blew right past me this morning. I had to wave her down, and when I got on board I bit back any cutting remarks and just said, “Thank you!” I mean, I’m willing to give any hard working person the benefit of the doubt, especially first thing in the morning. Mistakes happen. No big.
To my surprise, the driver wasn’t the slightest bit apologetic. She responded to my thanks with a look that said, “You’re the dumbest white girl I’ve seen this year.” She scolded: “You were standing away from the stop.”
Confused, I dropped my SmarTrip card into my bag and said, “Yes…that’s the stop right there.” I’d been standing about a foot away from the bus stop sign, as I do every morning. I see lots of different bus drivers, and so far they’ve all always been able to tell that I wanted to get on their buses, though the bus stop sign is planted in the grass about six inches from the roadside, and I prefer to stand 7 inches farther than that, on the sidewalk.
Her face made it clear I’d just fallen from dumbest white girl of the year to dumbest white girl…ever. She repeated, “Yes, and you were standing away from it.”
I only said, “Oh, okay,” and smiled and walked back to take a seat.
But you should know that I was stewing. I wanted to say, “Thanks for letting me know. Next time I’ll just wrap my arms around the sign and hold on tight till you get here, so there’s no confusion whatsoever.” Because I know lots of people who just hang out randomly in the middle of the sidewalk a foot or two away from bus stop signs. Just because. Move along, bus driver, I’m not looking to go anywhere, just want to stand here and think about things.
Funny the things that make us so angry. The way a little bit of pride can tinge the most mundane moments and make incidents that just don’t matter seem all-important. Who does it hurt if that bus driver thinks I’m a dumb white chick? (And honestly, how wrong is she?) On the flip side, of course, would it have hurt her at all to apologize for nearly missing me? Obviously it was her fault, and it would have been gracious of her to admit it and move on. But when all is said and done, I made it onto the bus, the transit system got paid, and I made it to work on time.
All’s well that ends well.
And now I know, hopeful bus passengers better climb up onto the bus stop sign and wave a red flag, just so there’s no possibility of doubt about where they’re trying to go.