The four-wheeled drive was parked and also covered with bumper stickers.When I’m sitting at a red light I don’t text. I read bumper stickers.
This one said: JESUS LOVES YOU. Everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.
Which reminds me of a story I heard in the dressing room the other day. My friend Craig related it to the rest of us ten minutes before we were due on the ice.
Craig was getting on a bus somewhere in Ottawa and what he saw annoyed him. Now, Craig sees himself as a man’s man, and also tells a great off-colour joke, but in his own eyes he’s considerate, upright and and is also a stellar example of virtuous old-school manners. An old gentleman, Craig estimated his age to be at least eighty-five, climbed onto the bus just ahead of him, helped and steadied up the stairs by Craig. The bus was full, and no one volunteered their seat to Grandpa.
Craig immediately targetted the young man sitting opposite, wearing sunglasses and headphones and obviously with no intention of helping out.
“Hey,” Craig said in a loud-enough voice. “Would you be kind enough to get up and give this gentleman your seat?”
No response from the young dude. “Typical,” Craig thought to himself. “Young guy today. No manners and even less consideration for a fellow human being.” So a little forcefulness was required here.
“Look,” Craig said in a louder voice. “Could you get up and give my grandfather a seat?” He had decided to personalize this a little and he also tapped the impervious young fellow’s shin with the toe of his boot. Everyone was looking their way.
This time there was a response. The young chap looked up and reached behind him, pulling out his white cane. He tapped the floor in front of him a few times and pulled himself slowly to his feet. As the bus lurched into motion Craig had to catch him and he made sure that he held on tightly to the sightless young man until the next stop. The driver leaned back and called out the street name for the blind guy and Craig helped him down the stairs and through the bus door. He then re-entered the bus to the bemused smirks of his fellow passengers, or at least those who once again were not under the spell of their cellphones.
I haven’t taken the bus for years and I feel fortunate for that. But my youthful days were full of countless bus rides all over the country and I probably have a story for each one.
There was one between Sherbrooke and Montreal. I was probably nineteen years old and in my first year at Bishop’s University. You could probably have called me a smart-aleck. That’s another term I haven’t heard for awhile. I liked to read the French tabloids in those days to work on my French. The one I was reading here was called ‘Allo Police’ which I don’t think exists anymore. It covered crimes in Quebec, real or imaginary, a forerunner to the reality t.v. of today. After I had finished with it I sat on it because as a college boy I didn’t want the other passengers to think I was a rube. I’m really revealing my age with my expressions here.
We stopped in Magog, Quebec and one of the new oncoming passengers saw the traces of the tabloid underneath my nether regions. People in those days didn’t have phones to occupy them on boring bus trips and this guy obviously didn’t have the quarter it would have cost to buy his own damn reading material.
“Hey,” he said to me, en francais. “You reading that paper ?”
“Mais oui,” I replied. I stood up, turned the page and sat down again.
It’s not without reason that my late father would often look at me, shake his head and then exhale loudly.