Saturday, September 26, 2009
Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Union Fillmore - Church Market
Haunched over carrying a bag of books and two grocery bags that are soft and crumpled from repeated use, he boards.
"Are you Chinese?!" he asks the driver, loud enough to be asking the whole bus.
"No sir, I am not," the driver responds.
"Well then, I can't help you! I am a Chinese professor, but I cannot help you if you don't speak Chinese."
Two stops later he is standing at the yellow line.
"Nihaoma," says the professor.
"Ching ting toooww," responds the driver.
"Nihaoma," repeats the professor.
"Jing tee wooo," says the driver, laughing.
My cheeks flare.
"Nihaoma! It means 'How are you?' It is Mandarin. I taught you last week!"
"Oh yah, I've had you before," says the driver. "Nee-hey-moa."