I spill out of kaiser Permanente Medical Center with other members fortunate enough to afford insurance. My monthly premium covered all but $300 of my recent hip replacement. Waiting for the bus in the cold Pacific wind, I listen to the even more chilling chant of a man at his post in a parking lot driveway.”Sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Inwardly I chant, “There is irritation here, but I am not irritated,” a chant which morphs into metta, “May you be safe from harm, happy and peaceful, strong and healthy. May you receive what you need.” I am grateful that my privileged life has given me the education and counseling I need to deal with stress. A round trip Lyft ride to the specialist would have cost $30 so I am stuck with the bus. This man likely has no doctor, much less an extra $300. He probably doesn’t even have bus fare, while I have the tech training and hardware to maintain a running online purse account with a senior discount. It’s all relative, isn’t it?
Choosing to take another three buses instead of enduring the frenzied but more direct E line, I wait three blocks from the famed Pike Street Market where fish-tossing is a sideshow. A woman wearing a harlequin-crafted face screams obscenities at the invisible person haranguing her about an auto accident. Her soliloquy is interrupted by another agitated woman who threatens to hit her granddaughter with her shoe if she doesn’t behave. “I Don’t care what your mother does, when you’re with me, you won’t get away with…” being a toddler? The whole bus queue witnesses the declaration.
I want to run away. Judgment wells up from my collection of six psychology courses. Maybe if Grandma had those courses too she would have handled the situation differently. I manage to change judgment to compassion and send peace.
Three hours after beginning this journey I arrive home where a young woman meets me at the door and proclaims that I am Jesus and must give her a place to stay for the night. It was impossible on many levels. Next time I will make sure to have bus tickets and a list of shelters in my pocket when I venture out.
My ears and heart ring with traffic noise and life noise as I lie down to rest. I am tempted to wallow in the news that after this long trip to Kaiser Permanente there still is no help for the chronic illness that makes its home in me. My lament is caught up short when I remember the chant,”sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Lesson learned. Until the next trip. There’s room on this bus for you too. Hop on.