I’m sitting directly behind the back door of the bus. It’s a warm, sunny Saturday, and I’m not the only one feeling close to high on life. No real smiles or eye contact, but no verbal abuse either. Very promising.
A group of loud black man-boys board the bus and go directly to the back, sitting behind me. I’m prepared to tune them out. We stop in Petworth to change drivers. The new driver gets on the bus and officiously stands next to the driver’s seat before buckling in. How’s everybody doin’ today? He owns the bus. Y’all want the AC or the windows?
This is the best bus in the world! comes a booming, happy voice behind me. Why’s that? says the bus driver.
I’m goin’ to my son’s birfday party! He’s three years old today! beems the voice. Das good! You takin’ care o’ yo’ responsibilities, pronounces the bus driver. And we move up 14th Street.
I’ve pricked up my ears now, waiting for more gems to emerge. The voice continues to tell about his son. Yeah, he fresh ta death! He look just like me–he three today! His mom and me split up, an’ I mean, it is what it is, but that shit will change yo’ life, son, takin’ care o’ kids. I’m gonna keep my son on track though, keep my life on track. If I don’t take care o’ my kid, I don’ feel like a real man. That’s what men do, they take care o’ their children.
I dropped out o’ school and got my GED, but he’s gonna graduate. Go to college. Get a scholarship! Now you guys, you gotta graduate. Keep yo’ grades up, go to college. Then all you gonna do is fly!
The bus drops some of the group at Butternut Street. You heard what we said, right? the seventeen year old laughs at me as he gets off. Yeah, I heard what you said. And I want to see that shit too. I want it, show me.