My bus home was so late last night. For some reason the buses get terribly off-schedule late at night when, theoretically, there should be fewer stops and traffic delays. But if my bus hadn’t been late, I never would have met Igor.
Igor sat next to me at the bus stop and said, “I’ve met you before.”
“No,” I said.
“Oh, you white boys all look the same. You know that?”
We became fast friends, Igor and I. Maybe because he kept shouting his own name (“ee-GOR!”) over and over. I like that in a person. He was drumming on the bus stop benches and singing a song in Spanish.
“Do you understand Spanish?” he asked me.
“Only a very little bit,” I said.
“This song says: I’ll forget you, I’ll forget you,” he explained.
He was probably about 50, probably Mexican, and definitely wearing aviator sunglasses in the dead of night. He extended his hand to me, but when I reached out to shake it he squeezed my hand tight and clutched it against his chest.
“Your hands are cold,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m freezing.”
“My heart is warm. I’m a good man.”
“I believe you,” I said. Satisfied, he released my hand.
He asked if I ever feed the ducks. I said I don’t - I have enough trouble feeding myself. Igor feeds the ducks. (“They like me and I like them.”)
“What’s your purpose?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s your purpose in life? You gotta know what your purpose is.”
“I’m still young,” was my answer. “What’s your purpose?”
“Have fun. Meet people.”
Igor (“ee-GOR!”) wanted to know where I was going, where I live, what I do for work. Igor doesn’t work.
“What do you do with your time?” I asked.
“Good question.” He grinned. “Talk to you.”
We talked about nothing for a very long time. “What’s your purpose?” he kept asking me, over and over. “What’s your purpose? What’s your purpose?”
The bus finally arrived, almost an hour late. Igor got off at the very next stop, a distance it would have taken ten minutes to walk at most. When he left, I suddenly felt so sad. I don’t know why. It only lasted a moment, then the feeling evaporated as quickly as it came.