I live around the corner from a hospital. That hospital has a bus stop, and I like this bus stop. There’s always that chance that I’ll see someone crying in public. And it’s like double-bonus-points crying in public because if they’re at the bus stop, they’re leaving the hospital, which means they either left a really sick person on their own, or they left because a really sick person just died.
And they have to catch a bus home. Me? I’d splurge on a cab for any death-related trip. Or just drive. Imagine if you got on the bus for the death-trip home and that was the last trip on your ten-trip multipass. The machine that the card goes in would do a double beep. The little display would flash in red: there’s nothing left, it’s over.
It was a year ago, I was on top of the world walking down Miller street past a bus stop. There was a woman, maybe somewhere at the back end of her twenties, crying like a good sort.
I thought back to my first cat Tinker (you now know my password to absolutely everything) and the day she disappeared. It was the day after Christmas 1984, barely six months since Ghostbusters was released. She was a house cat and rarely went outside for more than 30 seconds at a time. Usually about the amount of time it took to sit down after letting her out. But on this day of boxing, she had been gone for a few hours and I began to worry. She’s just gone to the sales I told myself. She’ll be back any moment meowing proudly that she’s already bought some Christmas presents for next year.
But alas she never returned. For her, there was no Christmas next year. Maybe she made it to the sales, maybe she didn’t. We’ll never know.
The thought of Tinker had the desired effect, I was now standing at a bus stop on Miller street crying (like a good sort).
I sat down next to crying woman and sobbed it out. I heard her sniff – the sound of wrapping up a bout of crying. I turned to her and whimpered through tears, “are you OK?”
“Yeah,” she sniffled.
“Shit day, isn’t it?” And she did a little smile.
“Two months”, I mumbled. “Two months and I have no idea how to fill them.” She looked at me inquisitively so I offered more juice. “Cancer, final stages.” She opened her mouth like an idiot.
“The good news is I should be able to get around for the next few weeks or so, then it’s off to lie down in …” I paused for effect “… my death bed, I guess. But listen to me, what’s go you so down?”
“My boyfriend dumped me.” She said with nowhere near enough shame.
“Oh,” I said, and paused for about two DSBs. “woe …” I said, and paused for another 1.2 seconds. I’d stopped crying and my face was reanimating, “… is me. Oh, the sky is falling! Oh the FUCKING HUMANITY! My boyfriend dumped me and I will – absolute worst case – have to spend the next 50 years of my life alone!” I stood up to finish.
“What an awful 50 years that could potentially be!” I yelled, and walked away.
Five minutes well spent.