(On instructions from my editor you are hereby warned that this post is longer and more rambling than usual. For those of you who read these and wonder, “Could they BE longer and more rambling?” the answer apparently is “yes”.)
I totally love when life sends me a string of strange incidents that all tie together. My most recent one started last Tuesday (at this point please imagine wavy visuals and eerie “flashback” music; we have a very limited SFX budget around here, I’m afraid)…
I took the bus to work downtown as usual, woke up around the time the bus passed the University as usual, and was coherent when we got to the Bay, the stop before mine. I happened to glance toward the front of the bus at the exact moment that a black woman with a pink coat dropped one of her mittens as she got off the bus. An elderly woman in the front of the bus started to reach for the glove so I didn’t do anything, but then she sat back down for no clear reason. She didn’t actually go so far as to turn toward me and say “Psyche!” but it would have been appropriate. Knowing it was too late yet unable to just do nothing, I sprang into action, arriving at the front of the bus just as it was already pulling away. I asked the driver, “Can you let me off between stops so I can give her her mitten?” Unfortunately, he hadn’t seen her drop it and if you read that question again without the proper context you can easily see that I appeared to be just another passenger with reality issues. He didn’t even bother to reply, so I said, “The woman who got off at the Bay dropped this and I’d like to take it to her.” This managed to sink in, but only enough to get an “Oh.” out of him with no lifting of the foot on the gas. Giving up, I tossed the mitt on the front ledge, looked the driver in the eye and said, “Lost and found.” He grunted non-committally and I got off at my stop feeling very unfulfilled. I even walked back to the Bay to see if I could see the woman, perhaps to tell her that her glove was (hopefully) on the way to Transit lost and found, but I had no luck. Fortunately, the black woman in a pink coat that I DID find near the Bay was in too much of a hurry to apply for a restraining order, though the look she gave me when I asked her if she’d just gotten off of a number 21 bus wasn’t heartwarming.
Fast forward to Thursday evening… (wavy visual and eerie music again…) I’m coming home on the bus a bit later than usual. I arrive uneventfully at my home stop and exit the rear door as usual, shielding my eyes against the wind. The bus pulls away, and as I look up to see where I’m going, I see … unbelievably… the RIGHT woman in the RIGHT pink coat getting off the front of the bus. At MY stop! I catch up to her, and manage to get her attention without scaring the hell out of her, and ask her “Do you get off at the Bay when you go to work?” I think I could’ve come up with a question that made me look MORE like a stalker, but it would have taken a lot of effort. Her response was to mumble something about working somewhere but going downtown sometimes. I tried again with, “I think I saw you drop a mitten as you got off the bus at the Bay on Tuesday morning,” and this got a much better response.
“Oh, yes! I’ve been looking for that,” she said as she pulled the other mitten from her pocket.
I told her that the mitten was at the lost and found downtown. She looked dismayed at this news, and I remembered something about her only going downtown “sometimes”, so I continued on with, “If you’d like, I can go get it for you tomorrow. I live in that house right there (pointing) so come by this weekend and pick it up.” (I was trying for something less creepy than “tell me where you live” but I’m not sure that “come alone to my house” was any better and I couldn’t really think of any other alternatives.) She nodded and we parted ways.
On Friday I went down to transit Lost and Found and the strangeness continued. For simplicity’s sake I lied to the lady at the lost and found and told her that I’d lost a black mitten with a red maple leaf on the 21 bus. She said it sounded familiar and disappeared into the back. I waited. And waited. And chatted with the ticket sellers. And waited some more. She finally returned empty handed. “I didn’t find it,” she said.
“Well, I’m really hoping it’s here because I gave it to the bus driver myself,” I said.
She stared at me, my “normal” rating clearly falling rapidly. “It’s not yours?” she asked.
I tried to explain. “No,” I said, “I saw a lady drop it, gave it to the bus driver, then discovered that she lives on my street and I told her I’d get it for her.”
The lost and found lady is REALLY good at staring. After demonstrating her skill for nearly a minute, she apparently shook off all the strangeness, decided it would just be easier to pretend she was dealing with a normal person, smiled and said, “Well, it must be here then, and it does sound familiar. I’ll go get the bin and look again.” She disappeared back into the shelves and returned with a big plastic tub which she proceeded to dump on the floor behind the counter. “We’ll look together,” she said. From my position in front of the chest-high counter and separated from her by a piece of attack-proof glass, able to see the top 4 gloves on the pile, I said, “Sure, thanks.”
Almost immediately I noticed, even from my awkward vantage point, that all of the gloves were paired up. “Uhhh… I’m just looking for one mitten, not a pair.” I really wasn’t sure how she would take this but she must’ve liked me because she chose that moment to demonstrate a completely different stare than the one she shared with me earlier. She really is quite talented. She disappeared back into the shelves and returned almost immediately with the mitten. I took it, thanked her profusely, and quickly left her standing over a pile of gloves on the lost and found floor.
I’d really like to type up the happy ending here, where the black lady knocks on my door and I, smiling, hand her the missing mitten as a tear of gratitude glistens at the corner of her eye but I can’t. The mitten is here but it’s late Sunday afternoon and the lady hasn’t come by to get it. I’m still optimistic and I’m going to carry it in my backpack in case I see her again. I considered going door to door to try to find her, but that would just be creepy and I think I’ve done enough creepy for one week.