One of the best things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. In my years as a full-time bus chick, I have gotten to know the people I share this city with in a way that would simply not have been possible from the isolated bubble of a car.
One of the worst things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. Strangers are often annoying, or pushy, or rude. Sometimes, strangers are nosy. Several times a week, I am asked one of the following questions:
Where are you from? [Seattle] No, I mean where are your parents from? [Seattle and Pittsburgh]
What’s your nationality? [American]
What’s your background? [Let's see…I majored in English…]
What’s your last name? [Saulter]
You Creole or something? [Nope. I'm a fan of New Orleans, if that counts.]
Habla espanol? [Si, un poquito]
And the most popular: What are you? [A daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a human, a carbon-based life form...]
All those folks should have taken lessons in directness from the man I sat next to on the 4 today (P.S. – Smooth Jazz was driving). Before my butt had fully hit the seat, he asked, “Are you black or white?”
The answer, for him, and for all others I might encounter on a bus in the future, is: both.