The 150 bus stopped in Arturo Soria yesterday and Raul climbed aboard. He wore a green jacket over brown corduroy pants. His hands were slow in taking out his ticket, putting it through the machine and returning it to his wallet. There were no empty seats. The bus moved off towards the Castellana. He steadied himself on his cane and held the bar.
Raul leaned over and looked hard at the two small boys sitting in the reserved seats. Their thumbs moved rapidly over their mobile screens, their feet crossed under their seats.
“Where are your mothers?” Raul asked.
One of them looked up. He elbowed his seat-mate. They other looked up. Blank faces framed by earphone leads.
“Where are your mothers?” A few other passengers lifted their gaze from screens and paper.
“At work” came the shy reply. The other only nodded.
Raul nodded back. He pivoted his hand on the cane top and pointed at the reserved sign to their left.
“Get up out of that seat when you see someone who needs it.”
A moment of hesitation then comprehension and the two boys gathered their school bags and stood in the aisle. Some passengers shook their heads, one made a comment. Raul edged his way to the inside seat. He sat heavily and rested both hands on his cane. The boys left the second seat empty, but Raul motioned to them to sit down again. They were young and small enough to share the space with him.
“There now, isn’t that better. Always good to be aware of other people and what they need. When you’re older you’ll understand better.” The boys exchanged looks.
“This street is named after a Madrid born city planner. Arturo Soria y Mata changed how cities were built and planned. He changed the world. He was a man who knew about keeping others in mind.”
The boys giggled.
“Just remember it’s good to keep other people in mind.”
They nodded and returned to their screens. Raul looked out the window. Maybe tomorrow someone on the 150 would offer their seat before he had to ask.