Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman

December 15, 2011


I saw this guy the other day, whom I used to see a lot.  He waits for a bus at a stop not far from my house, which was on the way to my children’s former school. The bus stop is close to a light and when the light turned red I’d watch him, always, a touchstone for the rest of the day.


He’s probably around 40? Hard to tell. Simple windbreaker, wire-rimmed glasses, khaki pants. He is always alone. At first nothing would catch your eye, but if the light stays red longer than a minute, and if you were looking, and if you cared, you’d see. The rhythmic hand flap. The repeated lifting of the head. The eyes scanning the sky for something private and necessary.


Then the dime drops — ah. He’s Different. First, he’s different because he’s a bus rider in a car-obsessed city. But it’s more than that. There is an inner drummer calling the shots on this guy — he is but a servant to the drummer’s need. I think about the enormous time, work, energy to help this man function in this world and I am proud of him and all those who got him to the point of being able to ride a bus alone. He touches me — what can I say? And he has no idea of how many thoughts he’s inspired in me, pausing at the red light, as he waits another morning for the same old bus.


Or maybe he does. He is different, after all.


So am I. This guys speaks to the different-ness in me, the private struggles, the daily challenges. He reminds me that it’s not about what the fashion magazines say. They would have us believe that we’re all in a desperate race with each other and with time, to stay Thin, Well Coiffed and Fabulous. This guy allows me to get off the hamster wheel of a frantic day and connect with our collective human-ness.


I don’t see him much these days.  My kids don’t go to that school anymore, so I no longer pass that bus stop at 8:05 every day. But the other day I saw him and my heart gladdened as if he were an old friend. It being the holidays, I wished him, in my heart, a good holiday season and a blessed new year. Maybe, if I’m bold enough, during the next few days I’ll wish him one out loud.


Who do you see during your day that touches you like the bus stop guy touches me? Who needs a holiday blessing from you?