I was on one of those buses that takes you into the city. Public transportation. When I'd entered the bus, I noticed that all of the seats on the bus were full, but there were few people standing. There was not a feeling of the bus being overcrowded; it seemed to me as though everything was in its place. So I stopped at the front of the bus and grabbed onto one of the metal poles which were installed in and above the aisles so that people who couldn't find room to sit would be less likely to find themselves on the ground if the bus came to a sudden stop. I was standing behind the driver, right across the aisle as though I was serving as his first mate, or a conductor on his train. Ready to assist the captain if he needed it, but flanking him behind and to the right as any sidekick would, he was in direct line of sight so that I could see and hear the entirety of his brief interactions with all of my fellow bus-riders, which was a major part of the reason why I liked my standing arrangement. I loved witnessing the lines of people exiting the bus, each saying thank you as they passed the driver. I always noticed the few deviants who would exit the bus silently, often either glaring or absorbed in their headphones, and sometimes both. There were those who took the extra energy to smile, and add something like "and I hope you have a good day!" For the duration of the ride, I never heard him go beyond using two words, which he sometimes accompanied with a gesture when the words didn't convey enough information.
We stop, and the driver presses the button that tilts the whole bus to the side with loud, hissing hydraulic pumps, as if the bus is a turtle trying to let a small animal ride on its shell. A round black man with a cane, wearing a worn American Veteran baseball hat climbed onto the bus, using the hand-railing as support. It surprised me that he was so big for how old he was, even though he didn't seem to be particularly old.
The round old man had entered the bus by now, and I watched him look up at the horizon of the bus, searching through the crowd of people in an attempt to find a seat to sit in. Before he finished this process, a college student wearing a blue backpack whose straps were configured just slightly too loose bolted straight up, knees locked and back erect, as though to distinctly convey that he was intending to stand and clear up any confusion. The man with the cane locked his eyes with those of the student and said, "Sit down." The way he said it -- so loudly and clearly -- it came off as abrupt, and the student quickly sat down, having made his offer to have it promptly rejected. The man with the cane quickly said, less gruffly this time "but thank you, I appreciate it," as though something in the atmosphere was no longer as balanced as it was before.
As the recorded voice which was omnipresent in the bus announced the name of the stop, I took a step forward, thanked my captain, and wished him well. As the doors opened, I heard a tired voice call "you too."