Christmas Carolers arrived to sing carols to the homeless and give them stockings full of food, toiletries and gifts. Sadly, a security guard has been throwing out people without bus tickets for hours. The Rapid buses are not running today so those without homes stand out more today. A few men who had dodged the guard remained and accepted the stockings. The 8:00 AM Indian Trails cost three times as much as the 11:35 AM, and so I have passed three and a half hours reading. Usually, Founder's is open to allay waits but today is a holiday. Somewhere in Christendom beer is hoisted in pubs in the morning and Grand Rapids is not that place.
A woman in a security uniform handled the job of talking to the homeless with firmness and compassion. "Hello, if you don't have a bus ticket, you have ten minutes. Go ahead and use the rest room and freshen up. Don't clog the drains. No shooting up. You all know a church is open close by, right?"
"I have a ticket," I assured her. "Good. You have a ticket", she answered. I was not the droid she was seeking.
She sent on their way five young men who didn't have tickets, and I wondered why these resourceful guys were out vagabonding Christmas morning. The hats matched the mittens matched the coats for all five guys. They all walked in with pizzas kept warm in disposable bags of mylar. A clever person could weave an emergency heat blanket from all the bags tossed into the bathroom garbage. I guess some folks cruised Division this morning, dropping off hot pizzas.
I annoyed a man this morning. I went to plug in my phone and took a tad too long to unravel my earphones. He looked up from his iPad, halting his texting of long sentences. He wore a worn Western Michigan Broncos hoodie. "Why do you stand like that? It is distracting!"
"Sorry. Unraveling my ear phones. So I can keep my music to myself, right"?
I went to plug in my adapter below his Apple adapter. "Careful! It is rather fragile!"
"Sorry. I had an Apple adapter with a similar issue".
"Fine! I'll plug in over there". And he got up and moved.
"Okay." I thought, "It's a free country" to myself. Reminded myself of my promise to shed my snideness as a New Years resolution. Kept unnecessary comment to myself.
When the carolers sang, he stood up to enjoy their songs and smiled almost boyishly. He accepted a stocking. He didn't have a ticket but his iPad and his university hoodie made him look like a traveler? He ducked out a few times when the guard did a sweep. He didn't get on the bus to Chicago. I didn't ask.
I am on the bus with a retired driver of the Chicago Transit Authority and he expressed amazement that the Rapid shut down services for Christmas. "There's people who need a ride to see their family today. Chicago kept going 24-7. Grand Rapids is too big a city for no bus service on Christmas". I could only agree with him.
I knew he was a retired driver taking a busman's holiday. He was traveling light with a suit bag that could hold a busman's uniform. He also coached a fellow on an itinerary. I had heard the man going to Green Bay talking on a cell phone in a language of Africa earlier. Our busman knew the route well, "That's right, Grand Rapids to Benton Harbor and transfer. Benton Harbor to Chicago and transfer to the Green Bay Indian Trails run". I am envious of this slender man destined to visit Green Bay today. That same bus continues up to Houghton - Hancock, the twin towns of the Keweenaw. I think about asking the busman if I am right.
Greyhound has improved. All the buses have wifi now. The reason that morning bus had such a hefty price? As the clerk said to me, "Greyhound controls its schedule". The 11:45 AM to Muskegon began this morning in Detroit, and now has fallen two hours behind schedule. Waiting for the late bus, two women with enough Christmas cookies to feed an extended family in Tupperware have decided to catch a nap, leaning against one another. Grand Rapids offers little in the way of hospitality to lighten a wait until Two in the afternoon.
There's hospitality for those who have means and who begrudges this? A man in the valet uniform of the J.W. Marriott marched into the station at 7:30 AM. He proceeded to the ticket counter to affirm that the 8:00 AM to Chicago, the expensive run, was still on time. He then assisted a couple with their bags in the back of the JW shuttle and accepted a tip pressed into his white glove.
Master of Vyšší Brod, Mistr Vyšebrodský
Cycle de la vie de Jésus : Nativity