Sitting across from me on the bus last night was a coolly bedraggled, scruffy man reading ‘Into The Wild’. I hadn’t paid him much attention until he started speaking to a young woman who had boarded the bus carrying a large bunch of flowers, a painting and a pile of cards. I only tuned into their conversation a couple of minutes after it had begun, but it quickly became obvious that they had never met each other before this moment. The woman was an art student; foreign. She had been in town attempting to sell some of her own work (the cards, I presume)and was writing an essay on the theme of ‘The Importance of Nonsense’. The conversation was punctuated with awkward pauses and embarrassed smiles directed at the ground. They spoke about Italy, where it emerged the man came from. This carried on for around 10 minutes, and I immersed myself in the wonder of two people making a connection on public transport. I started to wonder if the man was ever going to offer his phone number when the woman took a phone call from the friend she was going to meet and said that she would get off at the next stop. I found myself mentally shouting at the man, ‘NOW YOU FOOL! DO IT NOW!’ and a few tortuous seconds passed. Finally, he said, ‘do you have a pen?’ and offered the back of the cover of ‘Into The Wild’ for her to write her details down. The woman suddenly realised that the bus had already stopped, and made a made scramble to gather her things and get off. The man slumped back in his chair, then lurched forward when the woman shouted her e-mail address at him. He obviously didn’t catch it, and slumped back again in disappointment. Then the woman appeared at the window beside him, again shouting her e-mail address. He leapt out of his seat and ran to the door, but it had already closed. He looked lost, paused for a second and then begged the driver, ‘please, let me out!’. Who knows if the driver had been aware of what was going on, but despite the fact that I have never once seen a London bus leave its stop and then stop to let someone off immediately afterwards, stop he did. Man and woman were reunited. I didn’t see what happened after that, but I’m going to believe that it was the start of something incredible.
Those are the moments that make you amazed with life, aren’t they? When something as mundane as a Tuesday night bus journey home becomes this magical scene straight out of the most soft-hearted Hollywood film. It’s even more magical in this day of, ‘how did you meet?’, ‘on Facebook!’.