Working out at 7 am involves a comforting set of rituals: Packing my lunch and my workout clothes and my work clothes the night before. Setting my alarm for 5:45 and hitting the snooze button only once so I can be up and stuffed full of eggs and toast and out the door by 6:10 in time to catch the bus. And hanging out at my silent United Nations meeting, which convenes every morning at my bus stop with the following cast of international representatives:
The white guy. That’s me. I’m wearing my gym clothes with my stuffed-to-bursting gym bag over my shoulders. And even though it’s pretty dark I’m usually reading something.
The blue-collar black woman. She wears a uniform that says she probably works in a hotel or at a restaurant. And she always looks tired.
The yuppie white girl. She’s always in a suit of some sort with her hair just so and her tennis shoes on and her bag that usually goes with her coat.
The Hispanic woman who’s always in a hurry. She runs—runs!—from the cross-town bus that drops her off right across the street from us and arrives breathless at our bus stop. Even though our bus never arrives until well after she’s joined us and gotten her heart rate back to normal.
The Middle Eastern woman who won’t stand anywhere near us. She wears the head covering that hides her hair and neck and the long flowing outfit that shows only her hands and her shoes. And she stands a good 15 paces away from the rest of us with her head down the whole time. She stands so far away, in fact, that she almost misses the bus some mornings waiting for us to get on before she ventures near the door.
The bus driver. He thinks he’s a gruff old man and he tries to stare forward when we board, but I make a point to say good morning when I get on and to thank him when I get off and I think I’ve finally broken him to the point that he realizes he’s never going to escape from my preternatural morning perkiness.