Most people think Xavier is crazy. Misinformed arrogant people often think he’s “retarded.” More understanding people simply describe him as “different,” and they certainly wouldn’t be wrong, he is indeed very different.
It’s mainly because he can’t communicate with people very well. He’s usually too busy counting things. He likes numbers. Numbers make him feel at peace because, when you really think about it, there isn’t anything complicated about them- they just are exactly what they are.
He likes keeping track of time, counting the seconds as they pass with blinks of his eyes. He loves counting things like that, time, lampposts moving outside a bus window, or the footsteps of hundreds of pedestrians he hears on sidewalks.
He likes counting, and he understands everything he counts, but no one can calculate a person no matter how hard they try, there are too many variables, they’re too complicated, and too infinite. That’s why he doesn’t communicate with them very well.
When most people think of a bus line, they believe all the buses are “the bus.” They think to themselves, “the bus arrived, it left, it goes around, and it comes back again.”
But it isn’t the bus- there is no bus. It’s just one of the buses along the line. Everyone knows it intuitively, that there’s obviously several Number 26 buses moving along the route at any one time. And although we might say, “the bus came,” it isn’t really the bus coming. Everyone knows it, but not a lot of people think of it. It wouldn’t be practical to think of it in any other way. Why? Because none of the other buses are important to you at that moment.
Xavier’s different because he knows exactly how many buses there are, and he can tell them apart clear as day.
When Xavier says, “here’s the bus coming down the road.” Believe me, he knows precisely which bus it is. Maybe it’s the one with the scratch on the thirty-third seat, or it’s the one with chipped paint on the two of the 26 logo, or maybe it’s the one with the loose bolt jingling on the back window. Whichever one it is, he always knows. Immediately.
Xavier’s different because unlike most people he knows there’s twenty-four buses on the number twenty-six bus route.
He knows that they arrive at any given stop on average every twenty-two minutes rounded to a few hundredths of a minute or so. Although it’s advertised they’re supposed to come every twenty minutes. He knows the advertising is false, because he takes a mental note of the time interval between bus arrival and departure at each stop, and he keeps a running tally in his head as the average subtlety changes over time. And his calculations are never wrong because he counts away the seconds perfectly by sudden, and to those around him often frightening, consistent blinking.
He once told me that the max travel time between two stops, which happened on September 26th, seven years ago, on a day with bad weather- thirty-six degrees and rainy to be exact- with heavy traffic, and the bus got stuck at exactly four traffic lights, which was two lights higher than the average number of stops, and that was for an average of twenty-eight seconds per traffic light, and the total travel time was precisely thirty minutes and twenty-nine seconds, the most extended amount of time between two stops since Xavier started taking the bus to my office.
He’s different because he can remember these things without writing them down. And he couldn’t forget them, even if he tried.
To Be Continued…