Follow that bus!

Last week, while going for a walk, I pondered the question, ‘Of all my things, which one would I be most upset at losing?’

Immediately I thought: ‘My gloves.’ I had lost one of them for a morning last year and I was miserable until a stranger found it on the footpath outside the Cambridge Judge Business School and handed it in to reception. This is the email I sent to my classmates.

Dear all,

I have lost a black leather glove for my right hand. If you find it,
could you please let me know? I am very sad it’s gone. It fit my hand
like a glove.

Joan

When I wear my gloves, I feel indestructible. I like putting my hands into the fleece inside. I like going on buses and grabbing the rails without thinking about germs. I like that the gloves are tough and waterproof, but also flexible and soft.

This evening, I was dozing on the bus going home when I woke with a start and saw that I had missed my bus stop. I bounded downstairs to the lower level and got off at the next stop. As door shut behind me, I knew something was wrong. My hands were cold.

‘My gloves!’

Frozen, eyes wide, I tried to memorise the number plate of the bus as it disappeared down the street. I got four out of the seven numbers.

I scrabbled through my bag, hoping that I had slipped the gloves in absent-mindedly, but they were not there.

‘Oh no…’

Confused, I took a few steps towards home. I needed to call the bus company. I tottered back to the bus stop. The phone number must be on the bus stop sign.

As I started keying in the number into my mobile phone, another bus pulled up. It was the same route number as the one I had just gotten off.

I jumped in and gabbled, ‘I left my gloves on the last bus!’

‘Eh?’

‘My gloves are on the bus that just went by!’

‘What number was the bus?’

‘The same as this one! It was the same!’

The bus driver understood. ‘Sit down,’ he said. ‘I will take you to the depot. We will catch up with the bus there and then I can take you back.’

‘Thank you!’

I sat down in the nearest seat, reserved for disabled people. Two women sitting nearby looked worriedly at me.

‘Don’t worry, love,’ one said. ‘We’ll get them at the depot.’

‘Thank you,’ I murmured.

The bus pulled away from the stop and drove along for two minutes. The bus driver was driving fast.

‘There it is!’ the friendly woman said, pointing to a bus stopped in front of us at the traffic light.

Within a minute, both buses were at the next stop. I went up to the bus driver, who told me, ‘There are two of them now!’

Indeed, there were now three buses, including ours, with the same route number.

‘Which one is yours?’ the bus driver asked.

‘I don’t know!’ I said. I remembered, ‘It was a lady bus driver!’

‘That’s the one further ahead, then,’ he said. ‘We can’t catch it here. We will go to the depot. Don’t worry, I’ll take you.’

‘Thank you,’ I said, grateful that he made my decision, and sat back down.

The lady sitting nearby said, ‘Better to go to the depot, I think. Then you can check both buses. Otherwise, you’ll never know, right?’

‘That’s right,’ I nodded. I couldn’t think of anything to say.

We drove some more and I watched the bus with my gloves come in and out of my vision. I worried about someone spotting them and picking them up.

‘Look, it stopped,’ said the woman. ‘Go and get it now!’

I jumped up and my bus driver opened the door to let me out. The bus in front started taking off but then stopped when the lady driver saw me running at full speed. The door whooshed open.

‘I left my gloves upstairs!’ I cried to the driver. ‘Can I get them?’

‘Yes…’

I pounded upstairs and found my empty seat. But there were no gloves. I looked under the seat. No gloves. Then I looked at the startled man sitting on the seat behind.

‘Have you seen some gloves?’ I asked. He shook his head.

I had one last desperate look around but they were gone. Conscious that I was holding up a bus-full of commuters, I scurried back down.

‘I’m sorry, they weren’t there,’ I told the lady driver.

‘Oh, that’s too bad! When did you get off?’

‘It was just after the main bus station, a few minutes ago.’

The driver sighed. ‘Isn’t that terrible? People taking a pair of gloves! They take everything!’

‘Yeah… Thanks so much.’ I stepped out and let the bus go.

Forlorn, I began trudging home. It wasn’t worth catching a bus back. I kind of wanted to walk for fifteen minutes by myself. I stuck my hands deep into my jacket, looking for warmth in the pockets.

I thought about my gloves, the way they fit my little fingers. I thought about two Sundays ago when I went shopping with Bettina. She had been looking for leather gloves. We couldn’t find anything good. I remember feeling happy that I had such nice gloves already.

I thought about calling my mum, who had given me the gloves. I had already lost the first pair she had given me, a red suede pair. They had been nice too.

I thought about calling Damjan, so that I could cry to him.

Every now and then, I whimpered aloud.

I checked my bag a few more times.

‘Maybe I should have gone to the depot,’ I thought. ‘Maybe it had been in the other bus that we overtook.’

Three-quarters of the way home, a bus with the same route number went past me. I looked at the licence plate and it seemed the same as the one which I had tried to memorise. I realised that I had forgotten it except that it started with ‘L’.

Almost home, I remembered that before I had nodded off in the bus, I had a tissue in my hand. I had used it to wipe my eye liner off. Where was it? Had I dropped it with my gloves?

I knew where I would normally put the tissue — in a little pocket of my bag. I stuck my hand there and felt… leather.

Disbelieving, I pulled out my gloves, which had been squished into a tiny ball. They uncrumpled into their black leather full fleeced glory.

‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’ I cried. ‘Thank God!’

I shoved my hands into them and flexed my fingers. I balled my hands into a fist and held them to my mouth. Mmm, leather smell.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ I couldn’t believe they were real.

My gloves are here on my desk. I am very happy now.

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