This post is part of a regular feature I have creatively titled, “Things that are awesome” Wednesday.
In this weekly post, I am going to share something that struck me as awesome during the past week. It may be a great recipe, a cool event, a favorite blog, a special moment or whatever else scores a 10 on the awesome-meter.
And if you have something awesome to share, I’d love to hear about it! Post to comments or e-mail me and let me know.
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I’ve covered a lot of miles in public transportation in my life. Growing up in New Jersey, we rode the train to get to Manhattan. When I lived in Boston, I didn’t own a car and took the T everywhere (unless I was traveling in Matt’s teal Chevy Beretta or in my roommate Jane’s trusty Toyota.)
One summer, I traveled Amtrak for 28 hours each way between New Jersey and Chicago. And, more days than not during the past five years, I have boarded the BX bus to travel from Denver and Boulder and back –then, hop on the free bus on the 16th Street Mall to get home.
You see a cross-section of the population on public transportation — especially on the free mall ride in downtown Denver. (Those of you who have been to Denver know what I’m talking about. If you have never spent time in my town, I’ll bring you up to speed. There is a touristy and pretty tacky pedestrian mall in heart of downtown Denver. Free shuttle buses run back and forth from one end of the street to the other, giving a lift to workers, convention goers, partiers, sports fans, teenagers and anyone who wants to go along for the ride.)
For the most part, most people act as you might expect. The guys dressed in suits start talking about work. Young girls in high heels snuggle up to boys with too much hair gel. Groups of teenagers in Up With People t-shirts scream and giggle. The guy who looks like he might start talking to himself usually bursts into an angry monologue. The girl who appears to be grumpy from her long commute impatiently rolls her eyes when a tourist delays the bus by ten seconds. (That last one is me, in case you didn’t catch that.)
But every once in a while, a stranger totally surprises me. They do or say something that I did not see coming. It’s awesome. I love it when a person’s uniqueness and humanity is showcased in such a way that it bursts through my foggy mind and reminds me that everyone really is something special.
Today, I wanted to share, in no particular order, four very short scenes I observed over the years on the 16th Street mall bus. In each case, I was surprised and delighted and thought, “That’s awesome.” I hope you find at a couple of them awesome too.
Two young, tattooed, punky kids who look like they just got out of jail are on the bus. They glance up and notice each other.
“Hey!” one says, warmly greeting the other. He shuffles over.
“Hey, dude!” the other replies with equal affection. They hug.
The second guy turns to his girlfriend. His squinty eyes brighten. He smiles as if recalling a special time, “This guy was in the same jail block as me.”
Awesome. I am reminded that kindness and friendships can blossom anywhere.
A man, in clothes dirty with a scraggly grey beard, slumps in his seat. He rests his head to the side, holding phone to his ear, as if he couldn’t muster the energy to hold the telephone in his hand.
He seems agitated. Suddenly his voice get loud. “Young!” he yells.
“Young!” he repeats angrily into the phone.
“Young!” he screams again. “You know, Jung! J-U-N-G. The guy who refuted Freud’s theories that everything is about sex.”
Awesome. I’m not sure I could have described anything about Jung’s contribution to psychology – and I wouldn’t have guessed this guy could either.
Two guys, pants sagging low, hipster attitude on display, stand near the front of the mostly empty shuttle bus. They are hanging onto the hand rails along ceiling of the bus to help stay upright as the bus jerks forward at each stop.
They start talking and the smaller guy bets the bigger guy that he can’t do 30 pull ups in a row from the hang rail.
The big guy accepts the challenge. He pulls up his pants, grips the hang bar and knocks out more than 20 pull ups so fast I can’t keep count. He then slows down a bit, but doesn’t let go of the bar and gets a few more. He continues, but now he is struggling, breathing deep before each pull up. He really starts giving it is all. His arms quiver. As I step off the bus at the last stop, I can see he is sweating.
Awesome. This guy, who appeared to be way too cool to try hard at anything, accepted and gave 100 percent effort to this casual bus challenge. I am not sure if he made it to 30, but I was completely impressed that he tried.
This one happened just last week.
The bus is crowded, definitely standing room only. With no warning, a group of eight adults and children burst into a harmonized version of “Deck the Halls.” They had clearly rehearsed. They might have even had sheet music, although I couldn’t see for sure.
They fa, la, la’ed through the whole song and then took requests for an encore.
At first, I sort of resisted smiling. But a few verses in, everyone including me was smiling despite themselves. Awesome.