... and a long-winded story on the way to it.
In the mornings, the university shuttle has a route that loops through our neighborhood, and we have two chances to hop on. On the upswing (on the :10's), you have your pick of seats, but if you miss it, you can catch it on the downswing (on the :20's) on the other side of the street.
With N. in tow, I like to catch the 8:10AM bus on the upswing. It means I can sit in the front seat, which has tonnes of footroom for me to put my laptop bag, and N.'s stuff, without having to take up two seats. Yesterday, though, she was early (like, 8:05AM), and I had to flag her down when I was in the middle of the block, but it's no big deal (she's super).
Today, I got myself on the road early, so as not to miss her, but it ended up raining as soon as I left the apartment. I stopped to wait under the eaves of our little grocery store, and tried as best I could to keep N. from getting too wet. I figured I could flag her down again, and stay dry as long as possible, or maybe even catch the 8:00AM on the downswing.
Just as I got underneath, this woman came up to me and said, "Do you need an umbrella?" I smiled, and said, "Oh, no, that's OK. I have to wait for the bus anyway. But thank you!" She then proceeded to press the umbrella in my hands, already opened up for me, and insisted, "I have another one in the car, and I actually have a car. Please, take it."
I tried to protest again, but she just smiled and said, "Go ahead, you need it." I nearly started to cry, and I could only thank her and wish her Happy Holidays.
Then, I managed to catch the 8:00AM, who was running late, on the other side of the road, not having to wait much at all.
I have trouble sometimes with the people in this city. The ones that you think would be polite, courteous, and common sensical (i.e. the intelligentsia that surround me most of the time) are rude and ignorant. I can't count the number of times while pregnant when the profs and researchers here would literally shove me out of the way to get on the bus, or to get in line ahead of me at the cafeteria. More recently, they blow past me on the sidewalk, walking three abreast, forcing me into the mud with the baby.
Once in a while, though, my faith is restored by seemingly little things - the teenage boys who go out of their way to hold open the door for me when I have N. with me in the stroller. Last fall, the woman who cleans the tables in the caf saw me with a nosebleed one day, and brought me a container of crushed ice and some J-cloths to help stop the bleeding. I hadn't even seen her walk by me that morning before she placed it on the table in front of me. To this day, when she sees me she asks about N., and I don't even know her name.
And, then, the smallest gesture of all - one morning an elderly gentleman, hunched over but tall with pride, stepped to the side to allow me to pass onto a narrow footbridge downtown, and removed his hat and swept into a deep bow.
It makes me think it'll all be ok.