I was running late that morning; you know how it is. Bad cold that made me feel lousy; I had too left feet and two left hands. I stumbled and fumbled about, and almost didn't get to the stop before the bus came.
The door wheezed open and I started to climb aboard when suddenly a tall, heavyset woman jumped out of her seat and rushed toward the front of the bus, blocking my way.
"You can't ride this bus. Get off. There'll be another bus along in a little while." Arms akimbo, she glared determinedly down at me.
"Get back in your seat, lady, and let the guy on," the bus driver told her.
"I won't!" she said, bunching up her powerful-looking shoulders. "I have a feeling about that man, and I'm not letting him on this bus."
"What the hell," the driver growled. "Look, we're blocking traffic; I'm gonna be late. Now get back in your seat, lady." He caught hold of the collar of her jacket and pulled her back a step. I took another two steps up and quickly ducked under her outstretched arms, reaching around her to deposit my fare. Then I raced down the aisle an dropped into the first empty seat I came to.
The door was still open; the bus sat idling its diesel engine.
"Lady, you gotta get off this bus. We can't have people acting like this. You oughta go see a doctor, or something."
"But why?" moaned the woman in a hurt tone of voice. "What did I do that was so bad. You should put him off the bus, not I!"
The driver pointed toward the open door. "Go on now," he said. "We don't want no more trouble. You can't use public transportation acting like this."
The woman slowly stepped down off the bus. She had somehow been drained of her anger; her shoulders sagged, and she looked much older. She took three steps forward onto the sidewalk and just stood there with her back to the bus.
"Damnedest thing," the driver said, letting the bus move forward, back out into the stream of traffic. He looked at me in his mirror. "Did you know that lady, sir?" he asked.
"Never saw her before in my life," I replied.
No one said anything else. We all turned and glanced back at the woman. She had turned back to face the street, as though waiting for another bus.
I wondered what she might do next. I'm sure the other passengers did, too. All except the driver. He reached up, pushed his cap to the back of his head, and whistled an almost inaudible tune, as though he had not a care in the world. As though the incident had never happened at all.