Modesto

I’ve lived in Modesto on and off, mostly on since 1970. And I never considered it my town. I’m a mountain girl, or at least a country girl, not a city girl. Or that’s what I thought. God thought differently, and He finally got around to telling me. After He pointed that out to me, I asked him how I could help Modesto prosper. He said to go down and clean the bus stop.
The bus stop is at the end of our cul de sac. People wait for the bus there, but many do drugs or drink, or just make a mess.
 I dislike looking at it, and do everything I can to avoid having to ride the bus because of it. At least I used to.
Saturday morning I took a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, some paper towels and Windex, and a trash bag (forgot the broom – will take that next time), and went down to the bus stop. Two people were waiting for the bus – an older man who said nothing and a woman with shopping bags. In front of her was a shopping cart. I asked, “Are you going to use this?” She said no, and I moved it over to the fence. There was another cart turned over on its side behind the little enclosure. I moved it and another, all from different stores, over by the fence. I started picking up trash (yes Laura, I was wearing gloves) when a man on a purple bike rode up and introduced himself as Randy. He said, “There’s no point in doing that. Those teenagers will just mess it up again.”
I kept grabbing empty wrappers, broken glass and even an itty bitty baggy, and responded, “I know.”
He got off his bike and leaned it against the overflowing trash can. “No I mean it. They’ll just come back and mess it up.”
“I live right down there,” I said, pointing, and I want to make this look better, even if for only a little while.”
“I used to hang around here,” he said. “But I’ve been clean and sober for five years.”
Maybe, I thought. But I said, “That’s good. Do you live around here?”
“Yeah, down on Johnson St.” He pointed over on the other side of Prescott. “I came down here to sell a bus transfer.”
About that time the bus came and the man and the woman with the shopping bags got on. Some people got off, but Randy didn’t approach them about the transfer. He was still talking to me.
“Yeah, I been clean and sober since the Lord and AA got hold of me,” he said.
“Where do you go to church?”
“That prayer tabernacle downtown.”
“I go to Redeemer. The pastor is really great.”
He waved and yelled to someone he knew who drove by in a car. Then looking back at me, he said, “I haven’t sold out to God yet, though.”
“You afraid he’ll ask you to do something you don’t want to do?” By now I was washing down the bench and posts, and some spray paint off the window.
“Naw, I’m not afraid. I been in jail and prison. Jail’s better, though. They don’t want you to work. I’m not much for work.”
“My dad was from Oklahoma,” I said. “He taught me real young that work can be fun,” I started wiping the windows with the Windex.
“Maybe so.”
One window was gone. Randy pointed to it and said, “Somebody kicked that one out.”
I nodded. “Yeah, at first I just thought it was real clean.”
He laughed and said, “I been tryin’ to control my violence.”
I had cleaned everything cleanable, so I dumped out the dirty water where no ivy was growing. Gathering up my supplies, I said, “Well, it was nice to meet you, Randy.”
“Yeah, maybe I’ll see you again.”
“Maybe.”
I was almost to the pavement in the street when he said, “Stop!”
I turned and saw him coming toward me. “You got something in your hair,” he said, and pulled out a leaf.
Thanks,” I said.
Modesto is a city, my city, but it’s more, and I think that’s what God wanted me to see at the bus stop.

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