This is a true story about my first time riding the bus alone in Maryland. Specifically, about the people I saw there, and overheard during my trip. This is in NO way a racial commentary - the people just happened to be of different ethnic groups, which is not uncommon in DC transit. And it's a little easier to identify them by their groups, because of the fact that I never heard their names, and would not post them on here if I had.
Around me were very interesting people. I was sitting next to an Ethiopian woman, and was across from an older Chinese man, who was probably in his early sixties, maybe late fifties. The rest of the bus was practically empty, even at this time. A few more people sat quietly at the back of the bus, minding their own business. It was quiet, and was a perfect time to read.
We stopped at a few stops, and a few other people came on, including a woman with two kids, one of whom was in a stroller. She was obviously struggling to climb in, her three year old rushing to the back cheerfully without a second thought, leaving her alone with the stroller and a bag of groceries. A hispanic girl helped her, before sitting down next to/across from the Chinese man.
I went back to reading for a few minutes. Eventually, I started to feel a little car sick - as one does when they immerse themselves in books in moving cars - and had to look up through the window to try to regain my wits. Across from me, the Chinese man and the young hispanic girl (I would guess she was only just 20, if even) were in a close discussion about god. The young woman had her lavender bible in her hand and would clasp it every few seconds as she spoke.
"Are you christian, yourself?" she was asking the man, who had a saddened look on his face.
"No," he replied to her, "Though, I have always wanted to know more about him. Are you?"
I felt like I was intruding, so I tried to back away. Eavesdropping was rude, especially about matters of the spirit. But I couldn't. The woman spoke louder and louder the more excited she got, the more involved she was in the conversation.
"I was in an accident, a few months ago," she was telling him, I overheard, her voice growing in the bus. "I was driving on a slippery road, and lost control of my car. I was terrified in that moment, but I gave the control over to God. I felt his hand reach into the car and pull me out. I was thrown clear of the wreckage."
"You weren't hurt?" the man asked her eagerly, leaning in closer.
"Only scratches. I should have died that night, but he saved me. And since then, I knew I had to tell people about his miracles."
Wow, I thought. That woman had a story, and was sharing it. I wondered about my own faith silently. I had seen God acting in my own life, yet I was silent.
And then she came onto the bus.
She was at least 6 feet tall, big and black, dressed in a frilly purple skirt, a tight corset, and was wearing a feathered mascarade mask to top it off. She carried with her a glass vase of over 30 red roses. She was speaking loudly as she entered, laughing about something, before she was caught between the three year old and his mother, who was trying to push the stroller out of the bus.
She pushed her way in and put the vase on a chair of its own, broadly proclaiming to anyone that would listen - and those trying not to - that this was the fourth day int he row that she had to dress up in mascarade, and this Halloween thing was getting out of control. She sat herself down next to the hispanic girl, who was still in deep conversation with the Chinese man.
"Riding the bus with kids must be horrible," she said to the Ethiopian woman next to me, who reached out to hold the roses as the bus shot forward, before they could fall of the chair. "Do yourself a favor and don't have kids until after college, alright?"
"I don't intend to," the woman next to me replied. I couldn't guess her age, but I think she said later that she was in college at the moment. "I want to wait until I've got a stable job and a good husband."
"You much wiser than girls these days," the black woman proclaimed. "They all throwing around their sex like it's something you can just give away. And them guys - not the prince charming they were looking for, but they don't care. Are you a virgin?"
"No ma'am," the Ethiopian woman said nervously.
"You still with him?"
"Yes," she stated proudly. We plan to get married after college. We've been together four years."
This led to an awkward conversation, as it turned out the Ethiopian woman had had an on again/off again relationship with the man. She also noted how most of her graduating class had kid already. The black woman was not ashamed of voicing her opinions for all the bus to hear.
Now, the Hispanic girl and the Chinese man were praying together, almost to quiet for anyone to hear over the woman's loud rants, they hands joined. The man looked like he was on the verge of tears. As the prayer ended, the black woman noticed they were done, and turned to speak with them.
"You prayin'?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am," the girl said proudly. "You Christian?"
"Of course, no question!" she replied. "And him?"
"Yes," he said quietly. "Yes, Yes I am."
"Good, good. Where your church?"
She replied something I cannot remember. Again, I was trying to hide back into my book, feeling like an intruder. But I couldn't help hearing the conversation.
The girl said something about not believing in organized religion. She said her belief in Christ was more important than entitling her religion. The black woman replied in agreement.
And then, they began to argue. I missed how it started, but suddenly, the black woman was yelling something about "Church not being a building!" and the Hispanic girl, terrified, trying to stay strong, agreeing, but obviously not in the way the woman wanted her to, because now she was spurting out scripture at the girl.
And the Chinese man watched in wide eyed shock, as their voices rose to fill the small bus.
There, my stop was up. I rang the stop and rose to my feet, trying to make my way to the door. Her voice yelled after me, the words clear, still ringing in my head:
Jesus Loves you!
And that's my bus riding experience. What's the craziest ride you've ever had?