The bus was late and it was crowded. Maybe it was late because it was crowded, because there were so many people getting on. Or maybe it was crowded because it was late, all these people having missed a different bus. It’s one of those chicken-and-egg questions although chickens and eggs aren’t allowed on the bus. The bus stopped and a woman sitting opposite me got off. She’d been sitting right on the aisle even though the window seat next to her was, I thought, empty. After she got off I looked over and there was a purse, gold with maroon polka dots, in the window seat. And I hesitated, which I still regret. The thought Hey, she went off and left her purse, went through my head, but I didn’t jump up and yell “Stop the bus!” and maybe that’s a good thing because the bus wasn’t moving. When I looked out I saw the woman walking away with a big purse slung over her shoulder. So it wasn’t her purse, but it was someone’s purse.
I watched a man get on and take her seat, next to the purse, leaving it its own seat as though it were another passenger.
Then he got off and the purse stayed behind. I wondered if I should pick it up. Men don’t usually carry purses although I’ve noticed more and more guys with messenger bags or shoulder bags. I have one with a raven on it composed of words from Poe’s poem and it’s sparked a few conversations, but that’s another story. Anyway I wasn’t going to take the purse off the bus—it clashed with my outfit—but I did think about going through it to see if I could find any identification, some way to get it back to its owner. There were still a lot of people on the bus. Would they get what I was doing? And I even wondered if we were on camera, if this was a test to see what people would do. And what should I do?
In the end I moved the purse up to the spot next to the door where people often leave bags of groceries, umbrellas, and other things and told the driver someone left it behind. She said she’d keep an eye on it. I left and yet even now I wonder if there was something more I could have done.