Every morning for the past 10 years I have chatted with the retired police chief who sells bus tickets from his truck in a commuter parking lot. Then I board the coach for my trip from Cape Cod to Boston where I teach poetry writing. Ernie is an impressive man, sitting there from 4 a.m. until 9, the window open and his shirt unbuttoned even in winter, when I huddle near his door in a hat and scarf. He advises me on what snow blower to buy, and the proportion of bleach to use when spraying mold off shingles. Growing up in a Queens apartment, and now living a rural life, I welcome his counsel.

Over the years, he’s described his family vacations. In some stories, he’s met an aggressive panhandler in a parking garage, or heard a suspicious knock on his motel door late at night. When he recalls… More…