Today was an eventful day. It was a day filled with emotions. I was up and down like a roller coaster. Through the entire day, though, I kept thinking about a young couple I saw on the bus this morning. It was raining fairly hard when I left the house. I thought about asking John to take me to work, but I decided to grab my umbrella and take the bus. By the time I arrived at the bus stop, it was really pouring. Luckily, the bus came right away and it was nice and toasty warm inside. There were only a few people on the bus. A few stops after I got on, a young couple boarded the bus. They were obviously very poor, paying their fare in coin and wearing clothing that was not appropriate for such a rainy day. The girl’s hair was very messy and she looked exhausted. Instead of wearing a jacket, she had a ratty blanket wrapped around her. They were each carrying a book bag and I guessed that the book bags held all of their possessions. The young guy was talking a mile a minute, chattering on and on about all the things they were going to be doing – going somewhere to get a free breakfast and then someplace else. I was tired and tuned out his words, but I could hear his voice going on and on cheerfully. In my morning grumpiness, I felt a little annoyed at his talkativeness. Mostly, though, I ignored him.
The couple recaptured my attention when I heard the guy say, “Hey, it’s gonna be okay.” I looked up and tears were streaming down the girl’s face. He had his arm around her and was speaking to her tenderly. His words were soft and I couldn’t hear them, but they seemed to calm her down. She wiped her face on her sleeve. I fished a tissue out of my purse and handed it to her. She glared at me, angry at me for invading her privacy, but she took the tissue. She blew her nose and snuggled into the guy. He started chattering again. As we passed the baseball stadium, he told her they would go to a game next summer and have hot dogs and peanuts and cotton candy. I now noticed a kind of forced, desperate cheerfulness in his voice. His many words were intended to distract her from their present with a more hopeful future. I think he believed that he could use words to weave a blanket of possibility around them that would ease the troubles of their present situation.
I have thought about that couple all day. While I was walking to work, I didn’t dare grumble about walking in the rain, since I knew they were out there somewhere with no umbrella. As it rained, off and on, I wondered if they were dry and warm and safe. When I ate lunch and dinner, I thought about them traveling around the city to get free meals. I wonder tonight where they will sleep.
It’s easy to take my life for granted. It’s easy to forget that there are people nearby who are hungry and cold and hopeless. The couple today reminded me to be grateful for what I have and to work to make things better for those who are not as fortunate as I have been.