Friday, August 14, 2015

The View From the Bus: Fellow Travelers

A wiry, shirtless man pedals a bicycle down the side of the street, a sullen pit bull riding behind, seated on a grubby pillow atop an obviously homemade bike trailer.

Were I at the wheel of my car, I’d see the matched pair only at a glance, it not being prudent to rubberneck while driving. With a city bus driver as my chauffeur, I can afford the luxury of turning to gawk as we pass.

The old meme about dog owners resembling their dogs certainly holds true in this instance. The bicycle rider's face and body are not just nicely tanned, but tanned like a tanner tans leather. His face is etched with the sort of deep personality lines you expect in a person who has lived and worked hard. The hot breeze is unable to ruffle his close-cropped hair, which looks like a mere upward extension of his day or two growth of beard. His clothes, a t-shirt and khakis, are not dirty but they are worn and stained with sweat.

His companion, seated in luxury on the grubby pillow, is approximately the same color as his master's skin, with his own personality wrinkles and stubbly whiskers. The wind of their passing has a greater effect on the dog's features, producing that face-flapping that seems to delight all traveling canines, whether stretching they're head out the window of a car or riding serenely on a bicycle trailer.

Both man and dog are intent upon the road ahead, not distracted by the scenery or other vehicles. They no doubt travel this route frequently on their way to or from their home, wherever that may be.

As the bus passes on, the bicycling pair dwindle out the back window of the bus, and then the driver makes a right turn along his appointed route. The view from the bus is always traveling on toward the next stop.

This world is filled with people who are quite unlike me and yet not that different than me. They carry on with their lives, thinking whatever thoughts meander through their minds, inhabiting a world centered on them. The dog and the bicyclist's worlds intersected with mine for less than a minute. Then we went on our separate ways, though ultimately headed toward the same destination.