It was the last day of the tour. Just cool enough outside to make you shiver and zip up your jacket. June in the Bay Area was like that, warm sunny days preceded by heavy coat mornings. I hadn’t put mine on, because I knew I’d only take it off later and have to lug it around. I’d folded it into my suitcase, and put an extra sweater in my backpack for the flight home. I kept warm in the lobby, by the door. My passengers were trickling out of the hotel and onto the bus.
“Be careful, you’re boarding street-side,” I reminded them, “and drivers in Oakland are in a hurry to get to work.”
I’d gotten tips from almost everyone already, and they were generous. I had suspected they would be. Sometimes you intuitively know that you’ve pulled off a special one, a great vacation with deep human connection, not only between you and them but also between them and the others. The deeper that connection was, the more emotional everyone felt on the last day. The eye contact was sustained, the intention behind it sort of forceful. Acknowledge me, it said. I want your eyes to show me that your heart hurts a little, too.
The tall cheesemonger from Toulouse and his Parisian lady wheeled their bags out of the elevator. Outside, when Stacy reached for his suitcase to load it, he gave her a big kiss on one cheek, and then the other.
“In Toulouse, we kiss!” He belly-laughed, and his partner did too. His bottom teeth — I had been wondering for days whether they were false or just crooked — moved when he tilted his head back and opened his mouth.
“Ah,” he sighed, looking at me. “All good things must come to an end.”
I translated for Stacy, who nodded.
The two of them got on the bus and I stayed with her on the sidewalk.
“Who gave me the rosary you put on my seat last night?” she asked. “I’ve never had anyone give me anything like that before!”
I showed her the bracelet they’d given me, a string of hematite and purple agate beads with a silver charm to Saint Rita; patron saint of impossible causes.
“It was the couple with the dark hair, Santorelli. She’s a little round in the hips and he’s very thin, always with a camera around his neck. You know who I’m talking…