….damn bus is late again. Ok, so it’s 2 min late but well, ok then. Standing on the corner and low and behold, the RT67 is in sight. I can see the driver as he pullsup and over to let me get in. Monica, the waitress at “….” is standing next to me and as the gentleman I am, I let er on first. She always says, “Thanks Sir”. She’s on and now I get on, swipe my license and my fair is paid. See, here in Philly, when your old and stuff, transportation is free. I start to walk back in the bus and all i see are filled seats. Andre the Leica M240 is upset but we work it out quietly. No place to sit and I walk to the back. Then, then a young woman looks at me and shehas the only empty seat next to her. She says, “You can sit here Mr.”
Ok, here we go. Every guy on the bus is looking at me. Even some git=rls are watching. I look around with the … I’m da man smile. I say the the young woman, thanks. I sit carefully and gently ansjust mind my business. She says, my name is Linda. I ,ivearound the corner. My name is don and I live around the corner also. She smiles an says, are you a photographer? Yes, I am. Nice she says. Then she says, I see you on the bus and the El a lot. Your a VietNam vet. I smiled and say, yes ma’am I am. she kinda giggles. I’m not a ma’am she says.
Then she says, may I ask you a few questions? Of course I said. She tells me she has an hour ride to get to work. So I said, I don’t work like that anymore, and we start talking. Linda tells me that her Grandfather was in the Army and he did 3 tours in Nam. She say’s Pop died on the last tour in 1968. I never met him she tells me. He’s on the wall here and also the wall in DC. He’s buried in Arlington. My father was in the Army also and he did’tspeakmuch of it. Mom said it changed him and he was lost inside himself. I asked her if she would like me to talk with her dad and she had some tears in her eyes. I pulled out a tissue from my pack and handed it to her. Mom and Dad died in an auto accident on the corner 5 years ago. (OMG! I remember that accident) She grabs my hand and squeezes it. Then she says, she’s all alone here. No siblings, parents, cousins etc. She lives in the house that she was raised in and it’s her parents home. She tells me she’s 29 and alone. Damn, I’m a hard core Nam Vet, I can handle anything, sheeesh. All the sudden I get this sick feeling inside and I hide my locked throat with a few fake coughs.
She says, Don, maybe you could tell me about your experiences in Nam and I can get an idea about my Grandfather. I don’t know anything at all and it’s been eating me up for years. My mom and dad knew a lot but wouldn’t share anything. The bus is pulling into the Frankford Terminal. It’s where we make the transfer to the Elevated Train. I stand and she stands, some guys bully theirway off the bus and i stare them down bigtime. I say to the 3 guys, you see these woman they always get on and off first. Yes sir, ok, sorry. Some ladies get off and then Linda and then more ladies and finally the men and these 3 guys. So I get off and say to them. You have to treat everyone the way you want them to treat your family. Ok sir and they scoot away. Linda walks over to me and says, you didnt have to do that. I say to her, you listen to me. If you get complacent about manners and respect, that will destroy you in the end. It will destroy our country and it will destroy Humanity. I had to say it because I beieve in it.
She ask me how far I am talking the El. Then she says, I go all the way to 69th Street Terminal and then a bus for 20 min. I’d really like to ask you some questions but I understand if you can’t. Nah, it’s ok. I’ll go with you to the end. I came out to find magic and maybe I did. She smiles. We get on the train and sit next to each other. Then Linda ask me if she can see Andre the Leica M240. ( ok… Andre is sending electric shocks to my hand cause he want’s to be held by Linda.) I hand Andre’ over to her and she looks it over closely.
Don, you don’t need the screen protector on this. It has Gorilla glass and won’t scratch. My ears perk up and my eyes open wide. She pops the lens off and opens the shutter and says, clean. Looks at the lens and ask me, why do you use Zeiss Glass? I feel like the kid that got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. I wanted to say….mahhh, i didn’t do it, I didn’t . Shes flipping Andre around and checking things and Andre’ i=s like… well…anyway. She pops the base plate off and sniffs and looks closely and put’s it all back together and hands Andre’ back to me. (Andre says to me mentally, shooter, you better get me back with her in a hurry. I’ll melt my battery, mis fire evey damn shot and ….) I say to her, so you know Leica’s huh? Oh yeah, I have many. I use the M10 because it’s lighter. With your tremors, the 240 is better. She must have noticed my tremors. So, she wants to ask me questions about the Army and Nam and I am enjoying her knowledge about Leica’s. I knw my cameras very well but it’s nice to meet a person with a love of them also.
I asked her, Linda, where did you get your knowledge of Leica’s? She tells me that her dad was an avid collector and photographer. He had many Leica’s and when he passed, she got all. She said, dad taught me photography when I was 7yo. I love it and try to get lout a few times a month. We et to the terminal and she says, we get the bus here. I ask her if she will get in trouble if she’s late for work. She laffs. We get on the bus and it has like 6 people on it. We talk more about cameras and photography and then she says, this is it.
We get off and walk 1/4 block to this really nice bldg. All glass walls and garden landscaping. I figure she makes a good living working here. Then she ask me to come inside to her office. I smile and say, sure… why not. We get in and this woman walks to her and aays, Miss….. you have a 1030 and a 1000. She introduces me to the woman and says I am her life coach. I’m like still in the carpenter mentallity. We walk back thru this hall and thers an indor atrium. Theres to rooms, she walks into the big one and says, please make yourself comfy. This guy comes in, now I seen these guys on TV and in NYC on Wall Street and he has that slick hair and smells like well, nice.
She introduces us and he says, nice to meet you sir. I’m thinking, I don’t need a job but if she needs me to make coffee or whatever, I’ll do it. He leaves and we sit on the million dollar leather couch. Then she tells me that she started this company 4 years ago in her house and now she’s a leader in the business. Shes the man…errrr woman and has 75 employees and she is happy cause she talkes care of all of them and others also. She tells me that she is traveling the world in June thru August. I already miss her. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.
Then she says, would you like to meet again Don. I tell her, I am not going to your home. You are not coming to mine. We will not call, email or text each other. She looks kinda upset. Why she ask. I ask her if she believes in Serendipity. She said, yes I try to. I said, I’m going to make photos and thanks for everything. Your a lovely magnificent woman.
If we meet on the bus sometime, we can sit and continue ok. She smiled and I walked out.
This is a personal story but I wanted to share.