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Recently, my old pickup truck needed to be left in the shop for several hours and I had things that needed to be done at home. The shop had no one to take me home so I walked to the bus stop, waited about seven minutes and was home about 10 minutes later.

The ride was quick and easy and not very full so everyone had their own seat.

About three hours later I was again at the bus stop, heading back to retrieve my truck.

When I got on the bus, every seat was taken and no one was making eye contact. They all were perfectly happy to have a seat to themselves with no one interrupting their thoughts or their focus on their phones.

That is, all except one. She was young, a student at the university. She looked straight at me with a smile, moved her coat to make room, and gestured for me to make myself comfortable.

I took the bait. We introduced ourselves and had about five minutes to laugh and scratch and learn a bit about each other.

She was just coming home from her student teaching assignment in an art classroom. I shared a bit of my history as a first and second grade teacher. We laughed at a few shared run-ins with brazen children and our concerns about the future of education.

Her bus stop came sooner than either of us wanted and we waved goodbye through the window.

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Whoa! What a wonderful way to spend a bus ride. This is the world I’ve always wanted to live in!

My mother had one hard and fast rule she tried to make me follow. She failed miserably, but never stopped her efforts to enforce it.

The rule? “Dianne! Don’t talk to strangers!”

Even in my 50s, she would roll her eyes and shrink with embarrassment at what she saw as the public evidence of her failure to raise up a perfect young lady.

She was right. From an early age I decided to ignore this rule. I had discovered that there was nothing really wrong with talking with strangers and nothing really much more fun than having a laugh with those who share the world we all walk , or ride, in together.

It was always the same. I never argued with her or tried to convince her that she was wrong. I would just let her chastise me without the smile in my heart showing on my face. Inside, I would be singing with joy.

It’s easy. Next time you ride the bus, invite someone to sit in the seat beside you. This young woman simply said, “How’s your day going?” and we were off on a delightful, five minute adventure!

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Dianne Roth is a mother, grandmother, teacher, and freelance writer. She can be reached at: baglady@cmug.com

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