As I boarded the bus, the conductor pointed me to his seat. It would be my first and only experience in the prized seat, next to him. It was the seat everyone wanted because it was closest to the door. I still wonder if he had anticipated what was to come. As I waited for the bus to leave, I flirted out the window with a toddler who sat two rows behind me. She passed me candy, and I taught her how to sign I love you.
After two hours or so, we departed. This bus ride was fairly comfortable for everyone. There were only a few people standing in the aisle. About halfway to my destination, it started pouring rain. And when we reached our first stop shortly after, there was an unsettling amount of people waiting to board. They were impatient, desperate and wet. The easy-breezy bus ride was over, and we all knew it. They forced their way in, pushing each other and those of us occupying the aisle seats, myself included. When we had taken in as many people as possible without busting down the sides of the bus, we resumed our journey.
In order to make room for elbows and hips, I leaned forward and to the right. Others must have been worse off, not being in the first class seat. The tension grew. And the rain pounded harder. The driver had a good seat, but he had worries of his own, like not getting stuck in the ever worsening mud puddles. My seat partner, usually safe from the perturbations of public travel, was clearly affected. We had all given in to the bluest of travel blues.
Then it happened. They started to sing. She led them in some beautiful song of which I understood not a word. The number of voices grew. The tension began to change. Then he led. His voice commanded a following, a joyous following. He was using a word I understood. Hallelujah. As the choir grew and the volume increased, faces shifted. Smiles formed. Suddenly, there was no place in the world better to be. Suddenly, we were smashing each other with love and we never wanted it to end. My face opened up with laughter as I looked to my right. Our conductor looked at me, smiled peacefully and then bowed his head. I saw in him a deep gratitude for the choice our friends had just made. I couldn’t stop smiling as I let the voices penetrate deep into my soul. There I was, right there in Heaven. All that mattered was hallelujah.