Blue Underwear

Blue Underwear

A Story by R J Fuller
"

We see. We are seen. Never are we anonymous. A true story.

"
The bus came to a stop at the depot and I filed off the vehicle along with everyone else, at this location I had never seen before. I followed procedure and awaited for my departure, which was some time away. 
All I had eaten was pizza earlier in the day, so I decided it best to find something else filling, as well as satisfying. I followed the milling about which led me to the small cafeteria. I examined the items for purchase and decided on a turkey sandwich, bottle of milk and a twinkie. I took my meal to the far table, sat down and began eating. While I ate, I stared out the window at the clouds billowing by over distant buildings, and thought of how my day had gone. 
I didn't think I had necessarily blown the interview, but I had been true to myself, good or bad. I put on no airs, but I contemplated who I was up against and suspected it wouldn't be me to receive a call. Nevertheless, I had done what I set out to do, what I wanted to do, and that was all I could do. I didn't have someone expressing doubt over how I did, insisting I'd be disappointed if I didn't get the position, speculating what I must have done wrong. 
No, I had done it by myself, with myself and I took a strange contentment in that. I could now disregard it and never think about it again, which I did. I was too old to undertake such a new direction and I suspected it, but I had to give it a try, or I would always wonder otherwise. I finished my twinkies. The turkey sandwich was good as well. I polished off the milk and sat there. Next bus wouldn't depart for quite some time. So with all this freedom for thinking, I pondered the satisfaction in my actions. 
I took a deep breath and randomly surveyed the near empty dining area. Elderly fellow sitting over one way, woman with a kid the other. 
I looked back out the window, then did a one-eighty to observe the counter. Perhaps look at something else to eat. That sandwich was good, but again, I was content. 
A young man stood at the counter. all the way to the left, practically next to the register. Hispanic in appearance, he wasn't leaning on the counter, he wasn't fidgeting, he simply stood, almost as if he was waiting for something or someone. But no one was there beside him. No one spoke from the back, acknowledging his presence. No one called out to him. He called out to no one. And he never looked around. Just remained facing ahead, so I observed him in profile. Never turned to look at me. Never seemed to look down. And no one approached to ask him anything, if he wanted anything. 
He wore a red cap on his very dark hair, and just stood, unmoving. 
Somehow I got the impression the wrapped containers of soup mix, noodles in a cup, were his object of attention. He tended to look to his hand, as if seeing how much money he had. 
The woman with the kid left the dining area sometime after the elderly man did. So now, only this kid and I were present. I looked out the window and after a while, would look again. 
Still he stood there. Was I preventing him from stealing a cup of noodles? He must not have enough money to buy one. But he never looked at me. Never looked in my direction. 
I turned and looked out the window yet again, took a very deep breath and exhaled. 
This time, when I turned back to the counter all the way to the far left, he was gone. He had left the dining area. All he was waiting for, I thought, for me to not be looking so he could grab a container and make a run for it, but as I observed the unopened noodle containers on the counter, I could see none of them were missing. He hadn't take one. He hadn't taken anything. 
I thought about if I see him again, offering him some money, but that would seem odd, almost creepy to do. He never looked at me, never seemed to want to acknowledge me. Why would he want money from me?

The cafeteria matron, a short black woman was now standing at the opposite end of the counter, on the inside. She was talking to a fellow I had seen earlier, a black man who appeared to be security for the establishment. They both seemed to be looking down toward the location where the youth had stood. There seemed to be concern about what he might have done, what he might be up to. 
I pondered the worst of the kid. Clearly he wanted to steal those noodles. Clearly he was famished.   
I stood up, took my trash to the nearest bin and tossed it in, then made my way back into the waiting area. I took a seat closest to watching the tv. Ghost Whisperer was on. Well, I had never watched this show, so I decided I would now. 

Other passengers filed in, and among them was a man who was clearly Amish. He slowly strode into the area, pausing, then slowly made his way to his next destination. I watched the tv, but I could barely hear it, with all the commotion, but it didn't matter to me. I was just waiting to make my way back home. 
I turned to see what else was going on and across the room, and there was a visible pair of blue undershorts on the body from the waist down, as visible as the television, as the person lumbered over whatever he was trying to do. He seemed to be pillaging about in his duffle bag, searching for something. Then the person stood a bit, to turn something else over in the bag, and I recognized the red baseball cap. 
It was the Latino youth once more, obviously trying to uncover something worthwhile in his belongings. He pushed and shoved items around, mostly clothing, one knee on the seat to hold himself steady as he hunted for his intentions. 
I suspected he must be trying to find some loose change of some sort in his luggage. So he clearly hadn't stolen a cup of noodles, but I knew this as none were missing. 
I looked back to the tv and strived to watch the show a bit more, but no way could I follow it. 
I began hearing tittering going on in the row of seats behind me. As they were directly at my back, I could hear the conversation and what the problem seemed to be. 
A young white girl was somewhat bewildered by the Amish fellow. She had never seen someone like him before. 
"You've never heard of the Amish?" another female asked. 
The girl all but seemed to think the man was made up for something. 
"No, he's Amish," people were saying to her. "They dress that way." 
I was about to ask if she had seen the movie Witness, then I thought, that movie is probably older than she is, so it was unlikely she'd know what I was talking about. 
"Did you ever see For Richer or Poorer, that movie with Tim Allen, where they hid among the Amish?" I asked. She still seemed amused, yet flustered. 
I turned back around, leaving these others to her. I didn't know any of them, and truthfully, didn't know if they knew each other. We were all just on the same playing field, waiting for our next move. 

Seems I bought a soft drink, orange flavor, just to have something else before we departed, couldn't find a regular drink machine in the place, had to be content with some no-frills brand drink. 
As I ventured back to my seat, I now saw him yet again, but this time, he displayed triumph. The youth in his baseball cap, but now standing tall and bold, dead center in the arena, throwing his head back as he ate from that cup of dry noodles, finding absolute contentment with each mouthful. Nothing to wash them down, but he didn't seem to care. His hunger was satisfied with what he wanted. Not a candy bar, not a bag of chips, those uncooked soup noodles. 
He looked at no one in particular, cared not if anyone saw him. I deduced he must have found sufficient loose change to enable him to buy the noodles and now he was enjoying them. He didn't have to steal them, he didn't have to rely on charity. He had provided for himself. 
I had an unusual feeling of not being needed based on his antics, but again, clearly he was totally unaware that he was being so observed. It was as tho he was waiting for someone to approach and ask him if he had paid for those noodles, so he could look them in the eye and declare affirmative. 
I sat down and proceeded to watch the show on television a bit more. To have my totally unoffered pity and charity thrown back at me was a feeling that was truly humanizing. 
So I looked at the tv some more, but now I became aware of the Amish man again. He must have gotten word about the young girl being puzzled over his attire, so now, not making a sound, for whatever reason imaginable, he had made his way slowly, quietly, over toward her and simply stood directly in front of where she sat. And he looked at her. He said nothing. 
She simply looked around and said nothing to him, and I was left confused by everything. Was he wanting her to ask him questions about his clothes? He seemed to continue to stare at her a bit more, before he finally moved on and I paid no attention to her anymore as well. Back to watching the program. 

Amid all the hustle and bustle of the waiting area, I suddenly began hearing words spoken with clarity, then repeated. 
". . . like some of . . . . . ? . . . from the church across the . . . . " 
I turned to see who was speaking the words, and heard them said yet again. 
" . . . like some of . . . from the church . . . "

I now deduced it was a young miss who was carrying what appeared to be a cake box, large flat cake box. She seemed to approach each and every individual and make the friendly offer. ". . . . like some of . . . "

She spoke the same words to every person as she made her round and as she came closer my way, I viewed small bites of sandwiches, cut into quarters, with all sorts of condiments. Even tho she was a small girl, she seemed hunched over, as if to offer the food so the seated person would not have to stand to receive what he or she desired. 

"I'm from the church across the way," I now heard her say clearly, "and we had some food left over so I decided to see if anyone over here was hungry. Would you like some?"

Then she was on to the next person. "Would you like some sandwich bites? I'm from the church, . . . "

Each query was the same. When she came to me, I refused her generosity. I wasn't hungry, but now I was going to watch when she approached the hungry fellow I had been observing all evening. I thought to myself, he'll probably take half the box. Surely he wasn't content with those dry noodles. He was still sitting on the far wall where his duffle bag was, and seemed astonishingly oblivious to the young woman. Slowly she made her way up the row of passengers, speaking her comment over and over. 

And now she reached him, she delivered her line and I waited. It was a wait of foolishness. 

The young man seemed almost hesitant to take something. Gradually he reached up and took one, while she informed him he could take more than one. Almost reluctantly, he took another. She moved on. 

The youth began eating the sandwich bites, and I'm sure they were delicious. I gazed at the television once more and thought how this person had been so hungry, he was perceived as likely to steal, but he managed not to, and proceeded to pay his way, then to have a surprise sustenance offered him as well, for free, but he opted not to be greedy. 

I liked not knowing who he was. It was none of my business. He was someone who conducted himself as he deemed fit and chose to do, was compelled to do. And his hunger had come to an end. 

This journey may have begun for other potential rewards, but now I came away with an understanding that people did not automatically have to be the worst we assumed of them. 

It was dark, near midnight, if not after, and the rain was beginning to fall. It was time for my bus to leave, so I stood and found myself in a crowd that I would have believed too large to fit on a single bus. 
As I approached the door, I looked to the bench where the young Hispanic man resided. He was content. He had provided for himself, and had also done so in the face of charity.  I didn't know if this was supposed to be his bus, but absolutely nothing about him was my concern. Clearly he was quite capable of tending to himself.
He was curled up on the bench, fetal-like, sound asleep, facing inward toward the back of the seat, his lower posterior sticking out, once again, the blue underwear visible for all to see as we filed out the door. 

© 2020 R J Fuller


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Added on July 30, 2020
Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Tags: passengers Memphis depot bus