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The Bus Stop


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I'm not sure where to begin this story and how to keep it from being ridiculously long... but it's something I want to share...

I took my friend to the Greyhound station here in town last night to pick up his friend who was coming from out of town. The bus was supposed to be there at 7 but it didn't get there till 9.

Its a small town and the Greyhound station is this small building that has definetely seen better days. It has 3 metal chairs sitting outside and a pay phone...the parking lot is made of dirt. The whole area is dark..there are no outside lights and the building is locked up after 5. It sits on what the town calls a highway and what a city would call a country road...the cars come by but one at a time. It's what you would imagine, if you needed to imagine a bus station on a week night in a small town in Oklahoma.

My friend Charles and I sat out in the car on the side of the building, talking and making jokes..laughing about our situation and the fact that we were sitting at a bus station in a small town in Oklahoma. Just in our line of vision was the only other person at the bus station... a young guy... sitting on one of the metal chairs with his wheelchair beside him. At one point, we drove up to him to ask him if anyone had gotten off the earlier bus. He was personable and on closer notice, you could see that he was using oxygen, and had the bottle on one of those carts. He was tall and skinny...and couldn't have been more than 21. He said he was waiting for the bus and had been there since 4 pm. When we backed up to park again, I told Charles..watch..this kid has cancer...I can't even get away from it at a damn bus stop with one other person!! I can't escape this crap even for one night!!

We drove up to him again, about an hour later..we were going to McDonalds and asked him if he wanted anything. He said no. When we got back from McDonalds and parked back in the spot, he painstakenly made his way to the car dragging his oxygen tank over the rutted parking lot. He told us he had called Greyhound, and the bus was coming shortly. He said he was cold, and I invited him in the car. Normally I wouldn't invite strangers in the back seat of my car... our almost 2 hours of waiting in the same lonely parking lot had made us friends. In addition, there was something about the boy... he seemed larger than life...

He got in the back seat with his oxygen and told us that he was frozen to the bone. His heavier coat, along with 3 other oxygen bottles and his food were locked up in the building, the bus driver would have a key. The oxygen that he had with him only had 45 minutes left...if the bus didn't come by then, he had no idea what he was going to do. He had no money, someone had wired the bus ticket to him. At that point, I knew that we couldn't leave even though we had been about to... it was like finding an abandoned puppy along the street and picking it up... it was now your responsibility and you couldn't just set it down again. In no way am I comparing the boy to a puppy...but well, you know what I mean. All of a sudden the night had more weight than just waiting for a man to get off a bus...

While he sat there he told us that he was on his way to hospice.. that he had liver cancer and less than 6 months to live. I just nodded because I already knew... my friend Charles kind of had a hard time with it...was like..nah... you'll make it. The kid didn't say it with any negativity..he said it because it was fact and because he had accepted it. It was just part of his conversation...he was funny and warm and full of energy, in spite of his oxygen and bleak future.

He didn't sit in the backseat long...the bus came and he went to talk to the bus driver. Turns out the bus driver was pretty pissed off that he had to load a wheelchair into the bus and didnt want to take "the kid" as we had dubbed him. This was told to us by Charles' friend who had gotten off the bus finally, heard the driver and didn't know that we had developed this emotional attachment to "the kid". Evidently the bus driver only wanted to give him a hard time because he said he would take him but he had to break his chair down himself so it could be stored under the bus. We watched as "the kid" wheeled his oxygen and tried to push his electric wheelchair across the parking lot to the bus. Charles, as much as I love him dearly, is the most selfish person on the planet and wouldn't help his own grandmother carry grocery bags. Before I knew it, he had sprang out of the car and was helping the kid. This is just an example of the power that "the kid" had...I have known Charles for over 3 years and never seen him move that fast.

The bus driver still acted pissy with him but at this point was a bit reserved since he saw "the kid" seemed to be with friends. By this point I was at the bus too and Charles and I were just waiting for an opportunity to blow up at this ridiculously insensitive bus driver. We joked with "the kid" about a couple things while we waited for the bus driver to get things ready and at that point, he told us he had been in prison twice and pointed to the tear tattoo by his eye that I hadn't noticed while he was in the backseat of my car :roll: .

Finally, we helped "the kid" load his wheelchair and watched him get on the bus. Before he left, he shook our hands and wished us well.

After I dropped Charles and his friend home, I was filled with this strong sense of peace... I don't know why or how...but I know it came from this kid at the bus stop whose name I don't even know. This kid, who probably just got out of prison so that he can go to hospice, with no money and with less than 6 months to live, touched something in me that nothing else has. He had something that I want to have, especially if I ever end up in the place where he is.

I tried to analyze it and figure out why he made me feel the way I do, and I can't figure it out. Maybe the fact that he is so young..and has had so much tragedy in his life...but is still okay with it all. Or the fact that he is so young..and I have lived so much longer..whatever it is..I still have that warmth, that sense of peace today.

I know that he will always remain one of those people you meet briefly in life, but somehow don't forget. I wish I could thank him.

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Thanks all...I'm not sure of even half of what I was trying to say made it on the page but I guess enough did! Reading it back, parts of my post sound like a bad Mickey Spillane detective story! :lol:

I like what David W. said also.. kind of startled me... but I cannot get that song out of my head now! :roll:

Have a good rest of the weekend!

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