Here are two figures running for my bus now, tumbling out of the American darkness. They are a man and a woman of proximate age running together, held down by their gear, a motley assortment of blankets and bags. Right now they’re in between stops, and I have a moment of hesitation; perhaps I should leave them, as the 7 is still running frequently at this time of night. There will be another one before too long.

But then I looked again at the man, who’d been waving to me, signaling his desire for the bus while trying to retain everything he was carrying. His T-shirt was white, and his arm was dark brown–black in this light–and he put his hand over his heart in a gesture of entreaty, appealing to my better angels. The contrast of his arm and shirt made for a clear visual, cutting through the evening haze.

I smiled and pulled over. They could see my smile, as I drive with my dome light on (people are nicer to you when they can see you). Catching their breath, stepping up the stairs, making sure they have everything, thanking me profusely all the while.

After they were seated I turned and said, “it was the hand on the heart that did it for me.”
“Right on,” he grinned. “Nice,” she breathed, still winding down.
“It was no way I could turn that down!”

We chatted a little further, but the glow of his gesture and our initial exchange were what held. I was reminded of an old memory at Rainier and Henderson. I’d been standing by the farebox reading, with the doors wide open, when a middle-aged man came up asking for two transfers.

I was irritated by his entitled attitude. I knew better than to refuse him while standing alone in the ‘hood, knowing I’d be in the exact same place again tomorrow and the next day, and the day after. But as I tore two transfers to hand to him, I blurted out against my better judgment: “what do you got for me, man? I’m helpin’ you out, happy to do so, but what d’you got for me?”

Without missing a beat he replied, “I got love for you, brother! I got nothin’ but love!”
I paused and smiled. The quote, humbly glancing through my brain: Every man is my superior, in that I may learn from him. I said, “you know, that’s beautiful! I like that, thank you!”
“Nothin’ but peace and love, my brotha!”

What else is there, really, at the end of the day? What more could you possibly ask for?

Nothing, that’s what.

Article Author
Nathan Vass
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Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.