At first, I thought Postman wasn't going to be there this morning, but then I saw him coming down the street, his shirt unbuttoned and flapping over a white undershirt. He stood on the corner, buttoning it up. I could sympathize; I usually get out the door without quite finishing getting ready. I'm always brushing my hair and braiding it at the bus stop -- in fact, I was brushing it now. He waved and smiled to us as he finished and came over to the stop.
"Gotta go to work again," Postman said, with a sigh. "It's hard."
The others of us at the stop nodded and made sympathetic noises.
"I wish I lived in Mexico," he said. We looked somewhat blank, until he added, "Then I could go home in the afternoon for a few hours and nap."
"Yes, but then you have to go back," I said. "I could handle the going-home-early part, but coming back'd be worse."
"Yeah." We all turned to face the approaching bus. I collected my things and stuffed my brush back in my purse. "This is working in America," Postman said as the bus pulled up.
"Beats the alternative."
Paper-reading Lady was in her usual spot, with her paper unfolded open to the comics. I sat down next to her. The older white woman sat across from us again today. A woman who works at Burger King got on just behind me, and jostled Paper-reading Lady's comic. "Sorry!" the Burger King woman apologized.
Paper-reading Lady smiled. She has a nice smile. "That's OK."
Postman got on and stood by the entrance, holding one of the straps.
"We've got a seat for you," Paper-reading Lady told him, still smiling. "All the way at the back of the bus." She pointed. In fact, the back of the bus was rather more crowded than the front -- the first several seats were empty, apart from the three of us, and a fourth woman who was talking to the older white woman.
"Oh, you did?" Postman grinned.
"You made sure to save him a spot?" I joined in; the overall mood this time was jovial and infectious.
She nodded. "All the way at the back!" She pointed again, and the woman across from us joined in, pointing too. Paper-reading Lady continued, "There were some gentlemen that wanted to sit there, but we told them they had to save you a spot."
Postman sauntered a few steps down the aisle. "Howabout I sit -- here?" He sat one seat back from the front, looking good-humoredly at Paper-reading Lady.
By now I had to get off the bus. But the exchange left me in a good mood. I think Paper-reading Lady really is just teasing, after all.