Community at City Greyhound Bus Station
This morning I headed down to one of the City’s Greyhound bus stations. My uncle with some special needs was transferring buses here on his way further south. I was to meet him at the 10:15 am arrival and then make sure he got on the correct 11 am departure bus. I arrived a little early and was immediately reminded of the neat sense of community that seems to develop among waiting people at a city bus station. As I walked into the small waiting room, an African-American toddler was playing with one of the payphones, banging the receiver and pushing buttons. “No calling 9-1-1, though, right?” cautioned the Greyhound employee, leaning over from his high counter to peer down at the long haired little girl. “That happens,” he assured me, “and then we have the police here.” He laughed and shook his head. The child’s mother came out from the bathroom then, carrying an infant in pink clothes, and fuzzy curly black hair. She scolded her toddler a little bit, and then–setting the infant car seat down on the black metal chair across from me–she asked if I would watch her kids while she went into the bathroom again. Slightly cautious about that, but wanting to help, I said sure.
Eating my vanilla yogurt, navy-clad pregnant woman that I was, I sat there quietly, watching the baby in the infant carseat, watching the long fluffy-haired toddler banging the phone receiver again. Another spoonful of yogurt, more silence. The Greyhound man came back in the room to see me with two kids, and no mom. I ate another bite of yogurt, glancing at each child. It would be odd if the mom didn’t come back, or something. What would I do? Another bite of yogurt, and the toddler is now trying to climb up the phone cord. “Um, careful, sweetie,” I say to the child. “No hanging.” Hmm, I wonder, if the phone breaks, am I responsible?
Just then the young slender mom comes out of the bathroom, and smiles at me. All is good. I finish my yogurt and take a turn in the bathroom too. When I come out the mom is trying to get the toddler occupied with some music, and the tiny curly haired infant is fussing in her chair, a bottle of formula propped up on her tummy. “Would she let me hold her?” I ask the young mom, pointing at her youngest. Soon I was cradling a tiny five week old little girl, feeding her her bottle, and trying to burp her. I spent the next 45 minutes holding her, and talking to various people in the lobby. “And how old is your other little girl?” I asked, looking at the cute active toddler, with long voluminous hair in a pony tail. “He’s a boy,” his mom told me. Suddenly I noticed the blue jersey he was wearing. Oops. The hair threw me off.
Uncle Don arrived, and I yelled a greeting to him through the door, still holding the tiny baby, motioning him inside. We talked and hung out for the next 35 minutes or so. Another young woman came into the lobby and approached me, noticing the tiny baby I was holding. “How old is she?” she asked me. “Well, she’s not mine. She’s her’s,” I said, pointing to the mom who was now on the phone, seeming frustrated and upset with whatever was not working right for her on the phone. “But I hear she’s five weeks old. Isn’t she cute?” “I have kids too,” the new young Caucasian mom told me. “A three and a half year old, and a two and a half year old.” We talked some more, and she pulled out her wallet to show me pictures of her youngest. Her boyfriend was hopefully coming into town on the next bus, and she had paid a good price for him to come. “I bet your kids are excited to see him again,” I said. “Oh, I don’t have them, I’m still fighting for custody of them.” We talked some more, admired the precious infant in my arms, discussed my kids’ ages, and waited for the Greyhound buses to pull into the lot.
Across from us, a Latino man eyed us interestedly, watching the conversation. The two young moms talked some more. I patted the baby’s back and rocked her. Outside, three men joked loudly together, smoking a few last ones before their buses came. A car drove in the lot, threw out some jovial conversation with the people there, and then left again.
The young mom’s bus came, and we helped her watch her gear and kids while she got most of her luggage stored under the bus. Her toddler son proudly lugged a backpack to the bus to help. I cradled her little girl until she came back inside. “Have a great trip,” I said. “May God bless you and your kids. They are precious.” The young white woman and I said good bye too, and I wished her luck on her boyfriend getting here and on the child custody battle. We parted warmly.
Uncle Don got on his bus. I stood beside the smiling, smoking men in the cool breeze outside, the smell reminding me fondly of my grandma, waving to Don through the windows, and waiting for the bus to pull away.