Mother Of The Year

I was on my morning commute, sitting in the seat across from the bus’s back door. In the last row sat a mother and her two-year old daughter. The young girl was loudly wailing in that half-assed manner that indicated that she was neither in pain nor upset about anything in particular, but just wanted some attention: “whuuuuUUUAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! {pause} whuuuuUUUAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! ” The mother was chatting on her cell phone and looking out the window, the only person on the entire bus able to ignore the child’s screams.

We arrived at a stop in downtown Seattle. The mother hastily wrapped up her phone call, yelled “C’mon this is our stop we gotta go MOVE IT!” in the general direction of the youngster, and bolted from the bus. As her child tottled down the aisle and warily stepped down the first of the three large steps that led from the bus to the curb, the mother began walking briskly away.

Then a whole bunch of things happened at once. The bus driver, unable to see the small child in the stairwell, closed the doors right in her face. I leapt to my feet and yelled “back door!” The girl, meanwhile, stood stunned for approximately 7/10 of a second, then shrieked, then burst into tears, then turned around, then climbed back up the step, and then latched onto the first thing she came in contact with, which was me. By now the rest of the bus had taken up the chorus of “Back door! Hey, there’s a kid back there! Back door!” The bus lurched forward before the driver realized what was going on, then abruptly came to a stop. I frantically patted the kid on the shoulder and mumbled “there there” and “see? we’re stopping” while the girl continued to bawl and remain affixed to me like static cling incarnate.

Finally the back door reopened. The mother — who, at some point, had apparently realized that the total number of offspring in her company had recently dropped by 100% — charged up the two steps, grabbed the girl, and yelled, to me, “Get your hands off my baby!”

What I should have said, at this point, was: “Yes, you’ve got me! I am a skilled kidnapper whose modus operandi is ride around on public transportation until some abandoned child attaches itself to me like a tick, whereupon I take it to my secret lair, which, fortunately, just happens to be on a bus line.”

But of course I was too surprised by the whole chain of events to say anything so clever. Instead, in my very best “I can’t believe I won a million dollars!” Lotto-jackpot-recipient voice, I said “Take my, wha-?! Fuck you, lady!”

As the bus pulled away, I could see Mother Of The Year on the curb hollering at her kid, while the girl sucked in several cubic yards of oxygen and prepared to resume her wail.