Friday, November 03, 2006

Public transit story #13: Of age

While waiting for the #40L yesterday, I noticed a small boy watching me with intense interest. This little fellow could not have been more than 9 years old. He was there with his older brother, who looked about 13 or 14, and a woman who was probably their mother but may have been grandma instead. You can never tell.

After a long period of observation, the boy came up to me and said, "How old are you?" (Brazen little dude!)

"How old do you think I am?" I said. I would never reply this way to an adult, but the answers I get from kids are hysterical.

"Thirteen," said the kid.

"Multiply that by two," I said.

"Huh?" the kid replied.

"Times two?" I tried. The kid looked at me blankly. "Thirteen times two?" I said. Another blank look. "Do you know your times tables?" I asked.

"Nooooooo," said the kid, with a big silly grin.

"Well," I said, "thirteen times two is twenty-six. I am 26 years old, but I'll be 27 in two months. How old are you?"

"I'm thirteen!" he crowed.

This was obviously not true, but I thought I'd play along. "Then I'm twice as old as you are."

"Naw, I'm not thirteen," he said, "Actually I'm twelve."

Also a lie, but this was all very cute. "When will you be thirteen?"


"Oh, you're halfway there then!"

"Yeah, my birthday is next week and I'm gonna go out to dinner and have a big ol' party all over town!"

Then his (grand?)mother chimed in: "You're not thirteen, you're eight! Stop being stupid."

"No, I'm thirteen!"

"You'll be thirteen in five years," she said.

"No, I'll be sixteen in five years!" he replied. Then, to me: "You go to school still, or do you work?"

"I'm all done with school. I work."

"You work in West Oakland?"

"I work right around the corner from here."

"You work at the doctor's office?"

The outpatient medical offices for Children's Hospital of Oakland are indeed right around the corner from the bus stop--and directly across the street from the day hospital where I work. Figuring it would be a losing battle to try to explain partial hospitalization to an eight-year-old, I said, "Yeah, I do work at a doctor's office."

"WOW," he said, his eyes wide with admiration. Then he announced that he was going to go slip and fall on his butt in a puddle of rainwater.

No comments: