Stepping onto the light rail train in Minneapolis on the way to the airport before 7:00 a.m. yesterday, I noticed 4 or 5 men sleeping in their seats.
Immediately behind me, a young man entered the train.
He was ill-clad, not much over 20 and developmentally challenged.
He turned to me with a look of panic on his face.
His speech sounded garbled.
His demeanor somewhat timid.
He drooled on this chin as he spoke.
"Could you give me $2.50 to make my fare?" he asked.
Turns out you can ride a day pass for $6.00.
The young man fumbled with money held in an open hand. He tried to count it again and again, even as the train rumbled along.
I handed him a five dollar bill. He thanked me and headed toward a seat to count his change again and again.
A couple of stops down the line he exited the train. I watched as he put his money in the ticket machine and received his day pass.
Now, I turned my attention to the others on the car.
Two men were urged off the train by transit officers under threat of a $180 ticket--one left thanking the officer again and again for not writing him up. The officers had stepped onto our car to do their morning work.
The officers interviewed another young man with a bicycle. They checked him for warrants. Not sure how his situation ended, as he remained on the train when I got off.
Most striking of all was an older gentleman with long, white hair.
He sat in a corner.
He held his head in his hands and moved his head back and forth, as if to declare a categorical "No!" on all of life as he knew it.
The ride to my plane made me feel like I was home already.