local color

The weekday 8:37 a.m. bus is usually populated by sad-faced commuters just shaking off their slumber, aided by tall 1369 Coffee cups and magazines. So, it was unusual to hear the chipper squawk of a woman, conversing with a group of young Spanish tourists. She politely asked about their neighborhoods at home, and it was hard to say whether she was their tour guide or had simply struck up a conversation with them.

As the bus rolled on, the passengers were treated to a pleasant tour of landmarks along the route, some of which they didn’t know about, despite having traveled this route every morning for years. “Coming up is the Portuguese church,” yelled the woman. “That street is named for the first Portuguese cardinal.”

It was a slice of culture on this otherwise mundane Wednesday morning. The old lady sitting next to me rang for her stop, and after I let her out, I slid over to her window seat. A young woman greedily hopped into the vacant seat next to me, to continue her phone conversation, and to unfold a nail clipper. “Oh no,” I thought. Oh, yes.

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