There were children everywhere along Sheridan, crowding the stoops and squeezing into whatever shade they could find. The heat couldn’t keep them inside; their apartments were hotter.
We could see them from the 151 bus, which was crowded and hot. Every window was open, and one of the passengers standing near the back had pushed open the roof vent. Even the driver drove with her doors ajar.
I stood by the back doors, my shirt soaked with sweat. I pulled out my handkerchief and mopped my head for what seemed to be the 1 00th time.
No one on the bus was smiling.
Suddenly a young woman sitting near the front spoke sharply to her two daughters, who were sitting in the seat directly in front of her. “Close your windows. Do it now.”
An elderly lady turned and looked the mother square in the eye. “Why should they close their windows?” she asked.
The young mother ignored her. Then without saying “excuse me,” she reached across the young man sitting next to her and closed the window for her seat.
“Close those windows,” she said again to her daughters.
They looked at her and smiled. “Do it now,” she yelled.
The young man started to open the window again.
And then the bus passed the open fire hydrant. The bus driver took a direct hit. The water knocked off her cap and splashed over the fare box. Everyone was trying to close their windows, but they were too slow. Water sprayed in through each opening. Even the passenger under the vent was hit by a waterfall.
Water was dripping everywhere, and nearly all the passengers were drenched. But suddenly everyone was laughing.
The elderly lady looked at the two dry children and their mother and smiled. “Oh,” she said.