The weather was unapologetic that day. As I stepped out my house onto a quiet side street, the wind whipped my dark hair across my face. A thin blanket of white snow covered the sidewalks.
When I arrived at an intersection, I waited for the light to turn green before crossing. Then I continued down a busier street to the bus stop up ahead.
While waiting, I scrolled aimlessly through my phone. Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the red and white bus pull out of the curve on the other side of the road. The long vehicle came to a standstill before the traffic light. I shuffled to the back of the line and waited for the other passengers to board before me.
I preferred to sit in a single seat in the middle of the bus where I could look out the dirty window and be greeted by the city roads.
A mother in her late thirties struggled to push a large stroller with a crying baby in it onto the lowered ramp. An older man ahead of me stepped forward to help her. She smiled and mumbled what I assumed was a thank you to the man. He bowed his head in a slight nod, acknowledging her appreciation.
Once I paid my fare, the driver handed me a paper transfer. He had a short crew cut and intense blue eyes. When his lips curled upwards, I found myself grinning back. I thanked him.
The bus filled up quickly. Many of the passengers who boarded later had to stand. Most of them held onto the long silver poles or circular yellow straps hanging above their heads with one hand to maintain their balance. Some navigated cell phones with the other.
I glanced up when I heard a low voice. It belonged to a teenager with dark skin and even darker eyes. She had nabbed a spot near the front earlier on, but now she was starting to stand up.
"Would you like to sit?" The teen was asking an older woman with curly hair who held the hand of a boy with hair like hers. He couldn't have been older than eight. The woman nodded and expressed her gratitude towards the teen. She told her son to sit down. The teen slipped through the crowd, weaving her way to the back of the bus with a backpack dangling from one shoulder.
I stood when the bus arrived at the stop near my destination. But as I did, my elbow bumped into someone standing near me.
Without thinking, an apology shot out of my mouth. When I said sorry, I didn't just hear my own voice. I heard someone else apologize as well. The young man I bumped into had a sports bag slung to his left and a nest of brown hair on top of his head. The side of his mouth twitched. It took me a second to realize he was smiling at me. I returned it with a smile of my own.