Stranger Log – Little Miss Sweetly and The BackPack Kids

Current mood: Morninghead
Have a friendly conversation with a random stranger every day. It’s an apple a day for the city.

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I was waiting for the 43 on Presidio at Clay. A woman came running through the crosswalk, smiling sweetly and waving meekly at stopped traffic. She halted at the bus stop, huffing and puffing. She was a thin, small Vietnamese woman. Her hair was short and flat. It was black with a few salty gray sprinkles. She smiled sweetly at me and looked up the block, the bus search stance.
“You made it!” I exclaimed.
“43,” she said, smiling, pointing at the MUNI sign.
“Yeah,” I responded, smiling back at her. The bus was not coming. “You’re early,” I continued.
We stood in silence as she caught her breath. Cars at the intersection stopped, looked, and rolled; stopped, looked, and rolled. It was a hot summer day in San Francisco. The yellow sun was brilliant in the blue sky. A wispy, patchy fog set the daylight on a random dimmer. There was a cool coastal breeze shooting through the intersection. After several minutes, I asked her if she was going to work.
“43,” she said, smiling.
“Yeah! You didn’t even need to run,” I joked.
She didn’t speak a lick of English. She had a seat on the sidewalk to rest properly after her run. She beckoned to me and patted the ground. I joined her and sat down. We rested and, because a watched pot never boils, the 43 immediately came. We laughed and got up to board. She smiled her irrepressible, sweet, unconditional smile when she flashed the driver her fastpass. There was an empty seat behind her on the bus. She gestured to that free seat behind her with an open hand, inviting me to the spot as though she’d saved it for me. I took the seat she saved. We rode in silence. She waved goodbye when she got off. It made me think of how easily friendships are started, with a show of kindness.
A few stops after little miss sweetly got off the 43, we rolled through the UCSF campus. A grade school field trip boarded the bus. A dozen 2nd grade children boarded the 43. One of the little boys strutted and looked around unabashedly because he could tell that the entire population of that bus was sitting in two aisles of tidy rows facing forward just to watch his adorable march onto the bus. I love children because they walk with their whole bodies. He swung his arms, turned his head, and cast his feet forward insouiously.
The little girl behind him was anxious an an itch. She wore a pink sweatsuit and a backpack the size of her torso. Her brow was furrowed with concentration. She would not take a step unless she was holding onto a pole or handrail and reaching for the next one.
How does a physical body manifest the personality it houses?

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About Suhail Rafidi

Suhail Rafidi is a novelist and educator whose works explore the destiny of human values in a technological landscape. You can find him on Twitter, too, @shelldive.
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