I was not happy to be riding the "bad bus" vs the "good bus" ...with valid reasons of course. Remember this? http://marmiesmusings.blogspot.com/2009/04/just-boy.html But the ride on the 38 never fails to bring me into some kind of reality about life. On a crowded bus we have to look at each others faces and literally rub against one another, like it or not. There are mean people, kind people, funny people, and always people to remind you of things you have forgotten.
I heard the infant crying, a brand new baby I thought. I turned to see the man gently lift the baby from the carrier to his shoulder. Usually people just juggle those ugly carriers in an effort to quiet a screaming baby, but not this man, he was deliberate and caring. The child quieted after a few simple pats on the back. The man looked weary as he spoke in Creole to a child seated next to him, she was so tiny I could barely see the top of her head. As the bus emptied I waited and asked if I could help, he nodded in relief as I cautiously took the child's hand. She was unsure of me so I reached in my bag for the little Cabbage Patch doll I had stashed there for just the right time. It sits next to a matchbox car in the bag I carry every day. You just never know. With a nod from dad she took it in her hand, that tiny little doll my own little girls held.
Once settled on the train he tells me his story. For three weeks his wife complained of pain, twice he took her back to be checked, but they sent her away. She became very sick and they finally kept her at the hospital. He visited once, but he hadn't been able to reach her for several days and he was concerned. With no phone of his own a friend named Billy is kind enough to make or take a call for him. His two older boys are in a daycare, so he is going to the hospital with the two little ones to find his wife and see if she is okay. It's difficult with a newborn and a 2 year old to travel from Florida City to downtown on the bus, but he manages, and he's grateful to ride the 38.
He has done all kinds of jobs, he explains but he's out of work right now with times being harder. "It's difficult" I say, he nods. I have no cash, but he's not asking for help. Baby Christopher is content, and resting but I'm sure his mother is wondering about him. Gabby, looks up at me, her face is so angelic, wondering who I am. Little barretts hang on the end of her braids, two pink plastic flowers that sway as she walks. The rest if her hair is braided close to her head, the braids are getting nappy now, her mom isn't there to braid her hair, and dad can do only so much.the child sits quietly on my lap as her father speaks over the rumble of the train.
I hate to say good-bye as the train pulls into Government Center, the man thanks me profusely and assures me he will be fine. I wonder about him all day and into the weekend. Is the wife okay? Do they have enough to eat? Formula is so expensive! No, the kids have Medicaid and WIC for the baby, that's something. Will someone braid Gabby's hair? Who do we know who can give him a job? Surely we can give him some yard work and I could help with the kids
Everyday I see abused and neglected children but today I am reminded there are lots of people out there going through hard times, they are not doing drugs or neglecting their kids, they are just poor and need a helping hand, even if they do not ask. I search all over for the post-it with Billy's name and number on it...but is GONE!!! Nowhere to be found! Usually I loose things and just roll with it, like loosing my keys, forgetting my ID and having to fly without it, leaving my phone at work. I loose everything! Just as our meeting was providential, maybe loosing that small paper is too. But I am just so mad, so darn mad at myself. God please send someone to help them!