Our routine for dropping off and picking up our kids at the bus stop is concrete. My husband takes them in the morning, and I pick them up in the afternoon.
There is no finesse, no juggling of schedules, no wringing of hands and fretting about who has to leave work early to get to the stop on time in the morning and the afternoon. Thankfully, getting our children to and from school is one of the most unremarkable aspects of my day…but then, that it because I have never taken the outliers into account.
The bus usually arrives at 3:50. I sit in my car and play on my phone until the children hop into the backseat sometimes laughing, frequently frowning, always screeching. We all have the same routine – the other parents and I – we sit in our individual cars and wait for our kids to scramble off the bus and we drive away without a word to another adult. How was I to know that one of my fellow cultivators of loin fruit might be craving some adult conversation? It seems that was the case on yesterday.
A petite Indian woman, very round in the middle and swathed in a dainty pink head wrap approached my car moments after the bus unloaded our kids. She had a grave look on her face. I geared myself for a scolding on account of something my children had done to hers on the bus. Black and Indian relations in Roswell aren’t exactly what you would term “friendly”. They look down on us, and we treat them with the same ambivalence we accord other races (Mexicans included) who do the same. I took a sharp breath and waited.
“Every time I come to the bus stop you are always on your phone,” she said with shy laugh.
Ei. What was she accusing me of? Now I can’t be on my phone?
“Yes,” I replied. “It’s just something to keep me occupied until the kids come…”
Why was I justifying my being on the phone with a complete stranger?
“I wanted to show you something on my phone.” She pulled out her device and thrust it through my window. “See? It’s a boy being attacked by a tiger.”
She nodded her head and smiled a sad smile. “It happened in New Dehli. He was 16 years old.”
Indian Mom went on to explain how the boy was trying to get a closer picture of the tiger at the zoo and fell over the railing into the enclosure. The curious tiger approached him and gently pawed at the terrified boy for a long time without exhibiting any violence. Some of the other zoo visitors tried to get his attention to lure him away from child until some genius decided to throw a rock at it. That’s when the tiger grabbed the boy by the neck, crushed his gullet and killed him.
“That poor baby!” I gasped. “His poor mother!”
“Poor baby,” she echoed solemnly.
Then I started yammering about zoo reconstruction and how they should educate the public and why-oh-why didn’t the crowd just wait for the zoo keepers to come…
Her face had drawn a blank. Obviously, she had no interest in discussing architecture or things that will never be or behaviors that are not likely to change in the short term. This is New Dehli. Hadn’t I heard what she said? I was probably ruining her high.
Her son ran over to my car and yanked on her arm, desperately begging to see the video.
“Ok, ok! I’ll show it to you,” she said with the same exasperated tone I’ve used several times myself.
We smiled at each other and I waved as she walked away without telling me her name. If she had been a less interesting character, I would have been content to keep referring to her as ‘Indian Mom’ and carried on with life…however, I think I have made a new friend. Any woman who introduces herself with a gruesome video of man versus nature has the potential to be a good friend of mine. I can’t wait to get to the bus stop this afternoon to find out her name!
What’s the oddest way you’ve ever made a friend? Did it involve gore? Did it involve ponies? Did you do a Masai dance at their desk when they revealed that they were Kenyan? (That’s how I met and became friends with ‘Nanny McPhee’)Has that friendship endured?