But as I sat down, he began lecturing them. Loudly, angrily. He told them all about good manners in a way no man should ever speak to a woman or older person. I don't know if they even understood him, as so many older Asians here can't speak English. I thought perhaps he was tired of seeing people push in the bus, but I felt embarrassed and hid my face.
I was appalled. I didn't know the details of where the man was going, so I couldn't help. I could only sit in shocked amazement at what appeared to be such blatant racism. Some time later, the man moved to sit beside me. He was gently polite, and I smiled at him. All the things I was too shy to say, I tried to put in that smile. We're not all mean and inhospitable, I wanted to tell him.
Then a young woman in the seat ahead of us turned around and whispered instructions to him regarding his stop. The older woman who had spoken up before also whispered to him across the aisle. The driver, who had been keeping an eye on matters through his rear-facing mirror, did not notice.
How wonderful to see wisdom and courage in action! None of the men on the bus had done anything - although can you imagine forty or fifty years ago, a man sitting in silence while another shouted at an elderly lady? But the women, they stood up, spoke up. And when that didn't work, they whispered.
When I saw that the older woman was preparing to disembark, I hoped it would be at my stop, as I intended to speak to her, thank her. But she got off a stop ahead. And only now, as I write this, do I realise that I could have spoken as she rose to disembark. I could have said, excuse me - thank you for what you did. I would have, if I'd thought of it at the time. I actually considered getting off at that earlier stop just so I could speak to her. But oh, shyness.
That woman would have considered me another silent bystander. I wish I told her what was in my heart. All I could do was smile, which is not enough. So I'm writing about it here, now.
She had an armful of wild flowers. And a heart full of love.