In case you haven't noticed, Old and I haven't been around these parts in a while. I come with no excuses, though. Instead, I want to offer a somewhat inspiring tale; one that I experienced while riding the bus home from work one day. I offer it to you, the readers of 'Tales From the Stump,' as a unique Portland tale; a tale that could easily have happened in any other large city, but makes perfect sense to have taken place in our little City of Bridges, Portland, OR.

As I waited at 39th and SE Powell Blvd for the 75, I lost myself in the blistering heat and anonymity of an urban street corner. Only when my bus came did I come to, responding quickly to the race to find standing room at the peak of rush hour. As those boarding shoved their way on, making it nearly impossible for the ones exiting to escape, the bus driver began yelling at people on the bus to move to the back. In hopes of accommodating everyone trying to board, he instructed everyone to cram together and continue pushing their way toward the rear of the bus. Clearly exceeding capacity, the bus driver continued to yell, only amplifying what misery the riders already felt inside the hot, muggy, sardine can of a bus. When the bus driver's voice reached its peak, just after I made my way on, a passenger, clearly fed up with being yelled at, and in sheer defense of his fellow riders, voiced up, "Quit yelling at us, we can't move back any further." Given the circumstances, and various factors at play, I did not foresee this situation playing out well. I couldn't help but add up all the variables: extreme heat, cramped environment, rush hour, disgruntled bus riders, and fascist bus driver. Oy vey!

Unfortunately the dialogue did not end there. The bus driver responded, "You're gonna have to keep moving. This is my bus." To this, the passenger again voiced, "We're trying, but you don't have to yell. You're being an asshole." Immediately, other riders nodded their heads and agreed with their own chiming of, "yeah" and "that's right."

And that's when I thought it was going to happen, an all out revolt. Right then, at 4:00 pm, on the 75 heading North, Portland bus riders stage a mutiny and overthrow Nazi bus driver. Something happened, though, and another force turned the tide.

In addition to it occurring to our rush-hour tour guide that he had gone over the edge, another scenario was beginning to play out, which forced the good in our driver, as well as the majority of the passengers, to manifest itself, as we were all about to become good samaritans.

Before the dust even settled from the exchange between the fascist bus driver and the peoples' champ rider, another series of events began to unfold, in which our 'collective good' was to be challenged. Here's what happened....

Nearly cutting off the aforementioned dialogue, a middle aged woman, too, raised her voice. This time, however, the raised voice had nothing to do with space on the bus. Actually, she was alerting everyone on the bus that she believed a man just stole something from her purse. In fact, she stated, "Hey, that guys just took my DVD!" With the various raised voices, most riders looked a little confused, but the familiar peoples' champ wasted no time in asking who she was referring to. When she points to a man on the other end of the bus, she says, "The guy in the hat." For a minute, everybody looked at a young man wearing his hat backwards. Again, the people's champ chimes in, while looking at the teen, "Who, him?" while pointing menacingly. Realizing he was possibly being falsely accused, and nearing a public lynching, the teen sheepishly said, "Me?" The lady who was robbed shook her head and said, "No, the guy behind him." Now everybody was staring at a middle-aged Hispanic man. Clearly understanding where all the commotion was going, the accused man pretended as if he didn't know what was going on. The more people stared, though, and began grumbling about the possibility he was a thief, the man shrugged his shoulders and acted as if he didn't understand English. His act only gave credibility to the accusation. This is when the other passengers stepped up and began to assist the lady even more. The bus driver, too, decided to help out, as he stopped the bus and said he'd call the cops if necessary.

One passenger looked in the bag the man was carrying, noticing he had a DVD in it. He loudly said, "He's got a movie in his bag." Now the accused man was seriously showing he understood what was going on, as he shook his head and put his hands up like he was innocent. At this time, I asked the lady what the name of the DVD was. This sealed the deal, as I asked the guy standing next to the accused what movie he saw in the bag. When the titles matched up, we told the man he needed to return the DVD to the lady. At this, the man pushed open the back door and hopped off the bus. At least 6 people shouted simultaneously, "Stop him!"

Without hesitation, the guy closest to the back door jumped off, along with his friend, and chased after the thief. With the bus stopped at the busy intersection, all the passengers turned into onlookers, as they peered out the windows to watch what would happen next. It wasn't long before the man who ran off with the DVD turned around and tossed the stolen good to the two guys chasing him. Pleased with their securing off the DVD, and not interested in further becoming vigilantes, they came back to the bus as the other guy kept running down Powell. Within seconds, the two "heroes" were back on the bus and returning the lady's DVD to her. Once on board, the entire bus erupted in applause. The clapping seemed to last forever, as time seemed to stop, as it usually does in those rare and unusual moments. The applauding passengers, as well as those who played a vital role in helping the lady get her DVD back, bus driver included, seemed to exude an excitement for witnessing such an act of rare goodness. It was inspiring to say the least. While I took from this experience a hope for our collective good, it wasn't long before the bus was rolling along 39th Avenue, and everybody had their heads down while they continued on with the monotony of their daily commute, almost as if nothing had happened. To me, it wasn't a regular occurrence, yet it seemingly came and went in the minds of everybody else. Whatever the impact was on everybody else was, it left me feeling inspired, as I realized that people will come together in each others' aide. This was, to me, very reassuring.