Helen Weiss Pincus

Me, Albania and a bus stop

At a bus stop in Teaneck I was waiting for a bus to New York, calmed by the awareness that I was at the correct location at an appropriate time (turns out this was incorrect, but that’s another story). The weather was pleasant, and with all these positives, I was in a glowy good mood despite everything going on in the world.

When a woman sat down next to me I smiled at her. I took her presence as confirmation that this was indeed the bus stop and the arrival was imminent. Wearing an intricately patterned scarf tied under her chin she gave off an Eastern European vibe.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Albania,” she said, then shook her head and said “No English.”

We sat for a few minutes. The feeling between us was very cordial. Then she got up to leave.

I surmised that perhaps the bus stop was just a place for her to rest. But I was still feeling hopeful that this was the elusive bus stop. I reached out my hand to shake hers. She took my hand and kissed it. Surprised and happy I kissed her hand. This was among the happiest ‘interaction with a stranger’ moments I’ve had in Teaneck.

When she left I looked up Albania on Goggle on my cell phone – 59% Muslim. Perhaps my momentary friend was a Muslim. There is no discrimination in Albania against Jews, Google told me. Religious hate and religious prejudice do not exist, according to Herman Berrnstein, U.S. ambassador to Albania, 1934. An Israeli Embassy has been in existence since 1998. Perhaps somewhere in the universe a small wave started. Someday maybe I will even figure out where to catch the 178 NJ Transit bus to the GWB Terminal. But for now I’m always going to imagine that I am always in the right place at the right time.

About the Author
Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Link, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions.