I had an argument with a woman downtown this week. Truly I don’t know how it happened. I consider myself a pretty easy person to get along with most times. I had just gotten off my first bus of the evening at the corner that I cross to get to the next set of buses. As I got off the bus another one zoomed past. I looked up to make sure it wasn’t mine. Other than that, I paid in no mind.
That’s when the woman hurried up to me. We were crossing the street to the next bus station. She looks directly at me while we walk and she asks, “Was that the 454?”
“No, it wasn’t.” I responded. “It was the 411.” I said.
“Oh, you pay attention. I have to learn how to do that.”
“No, I don’t.” I countered. “It might have been the 511. I’m not sure. It was one of the elevens. It said, Lynnwood.”
“You really do pay attention.” She said as we stepped up the curb onto the sidewalk.
“No, I don’t. I’m not sure which bus it was, other than it’s heading north.” And I realize every time I open my mouth I’m giving details on this damn bus that blew by me just a moment ago. I really, really did not pay attention. I saw it was not my bus and that was it.
I also hits me that I am walking along downtown politely arguing with a stranger, refuting the very idea that I pay attention. Why would I do that? It seems in this instance that I am paying attention. Is this the inability to accept a compliment? I dunno. I should be accepting her fine observation with a smile. But no, I do not let her pay compliment to this one time I display a fine quality.
We are still walking next to each other. We are smiling as we chat. It’s at this point I start laughing at myself. I wonder how twisted I really am. I am laughing that I wouldn’t let her say this about me, that I am attentive. I tell her not to accuse strangers of being attentive, we don’t know how to handle this kind of information. Her bus arrives and she shouts out to me while she gets on the bus, “Don’t be so hard to get along with next time!” We are laughing at each other – oh my god…I’ve become one of those…
I hope she is there again this evening.