Saturday, March 28

The Men at the Bus Stop

A silver sky lights the way to work this early morning and I drive my car fast and prompt, gripping the wheel tightly.Traffic is pushy. A red Fiat cuts me off. The green Toyota honks the horn. I glance to my left and catch a young truck driver texting on his phone while going a solid 50 mph. We all reach a red light and I hold my breath, hoping he'll stop on time. He does.

Most people despise red lights, for obvious reasons. They slow us down and halt us temporarily on our path to our destination. Is it any wonder why a few of us will try to skip? But there is beauty in a red light too, and I'm talking besides checking your phone for email. They can be moments of reflection.

Look around, see the tired woman in the car next to you. Wonder where she is going, where she works and if she is happy with her life. Look at the coffee shop on the side of the road. The parking lot is full and you can't help but feel some pity for the poor baristas who are being verbally pummeled by the sorts of people who have the luxury to pay for 4 dollar coffees on a weekday.

My moment of reflection comes when I spot two men at a bus stop. They look like twins, same physical build, approximate ages, and identical dress. Both wear white coveralls- the uniform of blue-collar laborers. Despite their similarities, or perhaps because of it, I note that they are foils of each other as well. One sits on the time-worn wooden bench with his head between his hands, staring the dew-kissed ground forlornly. He is tired at dawn and looks like he has endured one too many tragedies. The other man, meanwhile, stands tall at the opposite end of the bench, looking up to the sky, cigarette in hand, carefree. He inhales deeply, as if trying to absorb all the possibilities lingering before him.

The light changes and I must move on, but the thought of these two men haunt me. Who am I at that stop? Am I the man defeated by life before the day begins, or am I standing up as I wait for life to unfold with all its treasures and skulls-so self-assured I am even willing to kiss death and laugh?

Which am I?

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