BadAunt (in Japan)
The other day I had to take a bus. I was in a coffee shop beforehand, and asked where the bus stop was. I was pointed in the right direction. As I started walking towards the bus stop, I had to cross a wide and busy road. The light was green, so I started crossing, expecting to pass the old lady in front of me. I usually walk faster than old ladies.
But not this old lady. She was an old lady in a hurry, and she hurtled across the road far quicker than I did, and galloped towards the bus stop. As she approached it I realised why she was running. A bus rounded the corner, stopped at the bus stop, and then took off again, not noticing the old lady waving her umbrella and shouting. The driver should have seen her, but either he didn't, or he did and ignored her.
As I approached she turned back. I caught her eye, and shrugged. She burst into an annoyed speech about missing the bus, apparently not even out of breath. I sympathised, panting slightly.
Then I asked her where that particular bus had been going, and she informed me that it was, in fact, going where I wanted to go, too, and not only that, there was only one bus an hour.
I was a little confused. I thought my bus was on the other side of the road, and going the other way. Had I been turned around again? My internal compass isn't very good, but I thought I knew where I was. I asked her about it, and she told me that yes, the bus went to the same place from the other side of the road too, and in fact that was where she had been waiting when she realised the other bus was coming soon and would be quicker even though it went all round the houses first.
I thought about taking a taxi, but the old lady seemed like good company. We walked together back to the other bus stop, where I discovered that the bus would be coming in twelve minutes, not such a long wait.
The old lady pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Then she told me how much the bus would cost.
"But it's not that much for me," she said, smugly. "I'm old!" She took out her bus pass to show me. It was a senior citizen bus pass, and had her age on it. She was 81.
I had only glanced at it when she took it back, covered the age with her thumb and asked her how old I thought she was.
"Um... seventy, er, something...?" I asked.
She moved her thumb off the card.
"I'm eighty-one!" she said, triumphantly. "See?"
"Really?" I said, and looked suitably impressed. "I thought you must be younger, you were going so fast."
"Oh, I'm pretty healthy," she said, taking another drag of her cigarette.
We stood there for a while in companionable silence. Then she said,
"I have three children. They're all in their fifties, of course. My son is a police officer, like my husband was."
"Really?" I said.
"And so are both my daughters," she said. "Even though they're girls!"
This fact seemed to still amaze her, even after what must have been at least a couple of decades. I congratulated her on her accomplished children.
"That's a lot of police officers for one family," I said.
She looked at me sideways. "I have four grandchildren, too," she said. "And one of them is a police officer as well!"
I was running out of ways to express astonishment in Japanese.
"I'm surrounded by police," she said, with a twinkle in her eye, then delivered her punchline. "I can't do ANYTHING naughty."
I laughed. "But that's probably why you can run so fast!" I said.
Taking the bus is not just cheaper, it can more entertaining as well.