Sitting in the back of the bus has its advantages. I could see the guy coming from almost the front, stopping to say something to every person he passed. As he got closer I could hear what he was saying: “Can I use your phone?”
Please, I thought, please let someone before me say yes. If he got to me I’d feel awkward because there was no one behind me and while I didn’t recognize the guy there was a chance he’d become a regular rider. If I saw him every day, or even a few times a week, there’d be the same awkwardness and I’d have trouble explaining to my wife that we had to move so I could start taking a different bus route.
And then someone right in front of me said, “Sure” and handed the guy their phone. Lucky break. But, I thought, if he’d gotten to me I would have lent him my phone. If I didn’t have a phone and needed to make a quick call to someone I’d hope for a kind stranger, and let me emphasize I’d make the call as quick as possible.
The guy dialed and sat down.
“Hey, is Gary there? He’s not? Is this Bianca? Hey, how are you doing? Yeah, I’ve been at the public library all day. Let me tell you what I read…”
The guy had been reading some really interesting stuff at the library, and it sounded like Bianca had some lengthy opinions of her own about it.
“Is Dave around? Oh, yeah, let me talk to him.”
Dave had a surprising amount to say.
“That’s great. Thanks Dave! Put Bianca back on.”
I listened with eager anticipation wondering if Gary would arrive in the midst of this conversation.
“Well listen, I’ve enjoyed talking to y’all but my bus stop is coming up. Yeah, I’ve gotta get going. Tell Gary I called if he comes in.”
The total conversation clocked in at over fourteen minutes. I wonder what would have happened if the person who lent their phone had wanted to get off before the guy got to his stop. Or, for that matter, how Gary was supposed to call someone who didn’t have his own phone.
If someone ever asks to borrow my phone I’ll only let them on the condition that Gary is there to answer.