the karma police

I was waiting for a bus headed downtown the other day when an older woman cut in front of me. Usually, I would have pistol-whipped her, pulled her back with a surge of fury and anger and told her, “Oh hell, no.” But I didn’t. Not because she was older, but she was a tourist, so of course she wouldn’t know the proper etiquette of the Seattle metro. She had been dropped off by her hotel’s shuttle and when she emerged from the van, she sped over to where I was standing, dressed in those old-woman synthetic-floral-track suits that made a swoosh-swoosh sound when she walked. We filed onto the bus and she took the empty seat next to mine. The bus trudged on and she got up several times with questions. When she plopped herself back down, she unfolded a colorful cartoonish map that structured Seattle according to its stores and sights. She asked me how to get to the museum. I told her it was on First and University, pointing to the map. She gave me a look as if I had been speaking in Chinese, and continued staring at her map. We both got off at the same stop but something made me feel as if I should wait for her instead of running up the escalator like I usually do. I stopped and told her, “If you want, I’ll show you how to get to the musuem.” When she stepped forward, her face lit up and I had a strange thought. If a natural disaster had occurred at that moment, say an earthquake, and this woman and I were trapped in the Univeristy Station, she would say something comforting like, “Don’t worry; I’m a mom, my daugther’s in college, too.” We entered into a friendly but anonymous conversation, where she thanked me for demystifying this city and asked me where I was from. She said she was Mexico and was in town for her granddaughter’s graduation. When we were street-level, I pointed her in the direction of the museum. She thanked me, said God bless you and walked off. Feeling good about myself and the great deed I had performed for this woman, I then proceeded to beat up a hobo.

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