I boarded a nearly empty 76 Diversey bus with several dozen people. As the bus pulled away from its stop, a toddler began crying incessantly. He squirmed and screamed in his mother’s arms, and nothing she did or said could calm him. Meanwhile, against the bus driver’s warnings, an elderly woman moved from seat to seat trying to strike up conversations. A weary passenger finally asked the mother what was wrong with the little boy. She replied that he was tired–she had just picked him up from the baby-sitter, who said he hadn’t taken a nap. The elderly woman, who wasn’t having much luck getting a conversation going, chimed in by saying, “In my experience a child cries like that for only one reason: abuse.” A flurry of shouts erupted as people put in their two cents. The bus finally came to my stop. As I stepped to the curb the bus driver followed me off the bus. He shook his head, shrugged, and said, “I can’t take this anymore.”

–Robin Toewe

Reader to Reader welcomes (and pays for) anecdotes, overheard conversations, and slices of city life from 20 to 200 words in length. Send yours to Reader to Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail to yR2R@chireader.com.