It was 3 in the afternoon. As always, I sat in the front seat of the Tri-Met bus, going back home. The bus stopped at Walker Road, and an old African American man walked in. He looked sick and tired and I couldn’t help wishing if I could be of some help to him. After a couple of minutes he smiled and he calmly asked the bus driver, who was a white American, to stop at the nearest stop because he had taken the wrong bus home. I looked at the bus driver's face, which now looked cold and unfeeling. He grinned at the gentleman and said, "Don't you know how to read? It's written 4-8, 48 on the front of the damn bus!" The old man then pleaded with the driver to stop the bus so that he could get off; but the bus driver wouldn't stop. I sat there shocked in disbelief -- not knowing what to do or say. In the next moment, the doors opened and as they slammed shut and the old man stepped out, the driver said, "Damn N-s, don't know how to read!" I was so shocked that I couldn't breath. I just wanted to jump out of the bus! When it was my turn to get out, he smiled and I found myself saying, "Thank you!"
After these discussions, I summed up my strength. I vowed to myself that if I ever saw that man again, I would say something back. Today, on the 4th of Feb, I saw him again; this time cursing a high school freshman for not having the tickets ready while entering the bus. This time I didn't care if he was being racist or just plain mean; I stood up, looked at him in the eye, and said in a broken but determined voice, "You have no right to say that!" As soon as I said that, I walked out the door smiling. I had never felt so good my entire life; I felt like a caged bird that was set free. (Parvathy, Beaverton, OR, USA, 2002)