24 September 2002
At the conclusion of the AIDS walk, I went back to the car with
Kathleen to get my overnight bag, then she drove me to the bus stop where I planned to
take the bus to Davis. Walt was in San Francisco at the 49er game and bus service from
Sacramento to Davis, while slow, is direct. The bus, in fact, stops just two blocks from
our house (of course when I got off the bus, that was a very long two blocks to
hobble on my blister!) and only costs $1.25. Not too shabby.
The first problem was that as I stood there under the "Yolo
Bus" sign, the Yolo bus came and didn't stop. While this in itself is irritating--the
Yolo bus comes only once an hour, so I knew I had a long time to wait. (I considered
calling to see if Ned was home, but decided that even if he was home, by the time he got
to the bus stop, the next bus would be along anyway.)
Eventually the bus did come. By the time it got there, the temps
were heading upwards. The weather report says that Sacramento hit record temps for this
date in weather history (103). It probably was about that while I was standing in the sun
waiting for the bus to come.
I managed to find a seat by an open window, so I was able to get
some of the breeze that blew through the bus as it moved from stop to stop.
As the bus moved into one of the "less desirable" sections
on the outskirts of Sacramento, two adolescents got on. You know the type. Swaggering,
pants around the waist, huge cuffs, odd hair style. Different ethnicity. The sort of kids
that make you look around to make sure there are other adults close by and clutch your bag
a little more tightly...just in case.
The kids were raucous, laughing, talking about guns, etc.
I'm not normally a judgemental person (or at least I try not to be),
but I was going to be very glad when these kids got off the bus.
I happened to be wearing a huge "AIDS march button" and
one of the kids spied it and started reading it outloud. I kind of smiled at him and told
him I'd just done the march.
"Do they pay you for that?" he asked.
I told him that not only did they not pay, but that we had each
collected money for the various organizations that the walk was supporting.
His demeanor softened immediately. He told me about friends who had
HIV and/or AIDS and how fearful he was for himself.
He told me about how he was trying to take precautions so he would
not contract HIV.
He told me what a wonderful person I was for participating in the
As he got up to leave the bus, he said, "You will surely be
blessed for doing something like that."
I felt somewhat ashamed of myself when he was gone. I had based all
of my perceptions of him on the stereotype. And here was this seemingly decent kid who
blessed me when he got off the bus.
For someone who has complained for years about stereotypes people
have of fat people, I discovered that I'm not any better than anybody else. It's just that
my own set of stereotypes were a bit different.
It was an excellent way to end the day. I had marched for AIDS...and
I'd learned a good lesson about human nature. Definitely not a wasted day.