Friday, September 18, 2009

The End of an Era

I have given up on the bus blog only because my material is seriously lacking. And that's due in large part to the fact that I've been driving into work a lot more these days. Before I "exit" the bus entirely, I can't go without relaying one of my all-time favorite bus stories from the past. To understand this story better, and my old driver who stars in it, you might need to jog your memory by reading I'm thankful for the memories. I also need to preface this story with a warning that my bus driver had a foul mouth, so please don't be Okay: It was a nice spring afternoon. I board the bus like any other day, wildly looking around for a seat that doesn't have some sort of sticky spill all over it, or a Band-Aid or food crumbs.... After I am safely seated and we have gone two blocks, my bus driver pumps the brakes like she has never done before and we all lurch forward in an aggressive motion. I can tell the driver is shaken and she mumbles something loudly to herself, head cocking left then right. The only thing I can make out is an expletive that rhymes with "nuther trucker." We come to the next intersection and stop at the red light. At this moment, in the middle of the road, bus driver whips the door open so fast and starts yelling at the truck next to her, "You know it is the law to yield to a city bus!" Ah okay, it makes sense to me now. It seems a few stops back my bus driver tried to merge back into traffic and instead of yielding to the bus, the pick-up truck cut her off. The man in his puny pick-up truck starts yelling back something I can't make out. Bus driver: "You have to yield to me, JACK ASS!!" (Truck driver is still talking back while bus driver continues to yell over him.) "JACK ASS!! JACK ASS!! JACK ASS!!" At this point my bus driver is now flipping off the truck driver and I finally get a clear glance at the severity of her 3-inch fingernails. Wow. I would stop talking if I were him. But he doesn't. And he says something to really piss her off now because she starts yelling- oh and by the way, the entire 22 bus which happens to be full on this day has gone dead silent. Bus driver starts yelling, "SUCK MY **** WHITE BOY!!" (Head swaying, eyes bulging, finger going....) All this in one red light. But then the light turns green. Bus driver slams the door closed, turns to face forward and begins to drive like nothing happened. Silence. About ten long seconds after we begin to roll forward, bus driver says calmly, "I'm sorry everybody." Clapping. The bus begins clapping! We all did...and I start laughing. Then the middle-aged woman in pigtails and blue eyeshadow sitting closest to the front says, "You go girl" and continues on some girl power rant for the rest of the ride.

Sadly, those days on the 22 are gone but I've come away with some useful knowledge from riding the bus. Notably, wear a high collar when possible so you can discreetly hide your nose from the stench. Be polite to a bus driver with 3-inch fingernails. Pull out your phone to faux text and appear busy when a crazy person looks your way. And now that I'm driving more, always yield to the city bus!

To all my homies on the 22, "Peace, I'm out."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sorry... have to ride this sorry bus. My co-worker's son took this photo. If you can't read it, the back sign reads "sorry," and I certainly am every day I board it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Danger Zone

I think the increased bus fare is weeding out some of the crazies on my bus. People have been quiet lately ... really quiet ... actually asleep, many of them. I've encountered the snorer and Cousin Prince Barkley (with bright pink helmet hair this time) but some of the oldies but crazies on my bus have gone missing. Today, however, I happen upon a new character: crackhead skinny. I take a seat in the mid-section of the bus nearing the danger zone which is the far back. You just don't go there unless you really have to, and this is why: As soon as I sit, I start to hear this soft wheezing sound behind me. I pay no attention to it. Next stop, two teenage girls walk on the bus and head to the back. The wheezing sound begins again but this time I can make out words in the wheeze "Heeey girls" and the rest of the sentence is nonsense (to me, anyway). I shift to my right just enough to realize the wheezer is sitting right behind me and actually trying to make out real conversation. I realize it's a woman. And she sounds like she's smoked five packs a day since birth. Imagine a loud whisper with a hint of rasp -- that's how this woman speaks. I hear the two teenage girls respond to her hesitantly and then wheezer and her friend get off at the next stop. I notice wheezer is scary skinny. And she is wearing jeans from 1980-something that have neon, multi-colored paint streaks all over them. I'm thinking they were bought like that, sadly. She stumbles to a stop just before exiting to make some incomprehensible remark to the girls and they sort of nod and smile in confusion. Something she said was funny because she laughs (coughs) as her friend ushers her off the bus. Here is the conversation that follows between the two girls:

Teen 1: I wish I could be that skinny.

Teen 2: You wanna be crackhead skinny like that? Pleeeeze.

(Then something I can't make out)

Teen 2: You know, yer gonna have to stop drinking after you have your baby. Because if you go to jail yer mom is going to be pissed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Memorable Bus Quotes II

Heard on the bus today by a tweenie bopper:

Tween: "I think sheep are the cutest animals alive, and they taste even better."

(Later on, discussing sun tanning)

Tween 1: "I get so dark so fast, it's the Indian in me."

Tween 2: "Ya, you get brown like a brisket."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memorable Bus Quotes

There have been so many, but here'r two more:

Woman: "I broke my nose once but I don't know how."

Man: "Yeah, I haven't broken any bones but I've had a lot of flesh pulled off my body."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Picking up the Piec- Pennies

I plop down on my seat, thankful the bus odor is not gag-worthy this morning. I don't need to breathe into my shirt or my hair, which is often the case. Immediately I hear "S'cuze me ma'am. D'yu have a dollar? I dunno wha happen, I lozmy ticket." I look up and tell the slurrer I don't carry cash on me, which is true today and most days. I look around. Of course I'm the one being targeted. It appears I'm the only one who brushed my hair today, that must be how she discriminates the cash holders v. non. She asks me if I have change. Actually I probably do because that's what becomes of my cash whenever I have it. I hand her what I have: probably 20 pennies, a dime and a nickel. She gladly accepts it. For the next five minutes she proceeds to count all the change in her hand, and I can hardly bear watching her count pennies, drop pennies and recount.... I scrounge the bottom of my purse and find a quarter and a dime. Done. I give it to her. Then she starts over with the counting. Pennies are dropping and rolling all over the bus floor. I can see she is having a really tough time leaning down to pick them up so I pick up a couple in disgust. I decide the floor of the bus should be in some top 10 list of dirtiest places ever. I pull out my cell phone and pretend to text ignoring the rest of the pennies that keep falling. I'm not going there again. We arrive at her stop. She has now dropped some coins -- or maybe just one of the important ones -- between her seat and she's having trouble finding it. She tells the driver "Hold'n pleeez." She starts walking toward the front with a wad of coins in one hand, and picking up runaway pennies she didn't realize she lost. I actually grab another one for her in a hard (for her) to reach place under the seat. Let me just say this: It's hard to pick up something as thin as a penny without scraping your finger along the ground. I think I actually got bus floor under my fingernail that time. I hand it to her as she says "Ev'ry one counts." I smile and count the minutes till I can wash my hands again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oddities in Motion

My last text conversation at the bus stop went like this:

Missy (to Dee Dee and Donna): The dark lord just walked by me in too many chains to count.

Donna: You still have your purse-sized light saber, don't you? No prob ...

Dee Dee: Lol ... why am I hearing "Chain of Fools" ... he'd be great fun at the airport eh? "BEEEP!"

Missy (in response): I told him the sacrifice of little kittens has been moved up a week. Wow. That was bizarre! Skulls chains hooded trenchcoat.

Donna: You speak goth?

Dee Dee: I'm reading the dark hunter series right now ... he's probably a day walker ... vampire killer!

Walking to my bus stop yesterday I passed a kid in one of the most ridiculous-looking outfits I've seen yet. Or maybe it was a costume, making it somewhat more acceptable in my eyes. As I sauntered reluctantly to my bus stop perch to wait, I saw him coming from a block away. His black, cloth trenchcoat swaying behind his slightly hunched body, he took aggressive, long strides toward me. I had to look long enough to take a mental picture but other than that I stepped aside, eyes away, making certain not to turn around until he was a safe distance behind me. His black trenchcoat hood drooped over his forehead as he looked toward the sidewalk. The chains were many. They went from sleeve to sleeve, chest to knees, some parallel, some cris-crossed ... it was like a puzzle you might be challenged to untangle. I guarantee it put another 20 pounds on this guy, who couldn't be more than 17. He wore boots, gloves, makeup, the whole getup. He was successfully scary -- except for that darn skull on his hood. If I were a goth critic, I would knock him for the skull. It wasn't very "dark," in fact, a little cartoonie for the look I think he was going for. Oh- he also wore a backpack. Probably full of that homework he was rushing home to do. Anyhow, this guy was one among a few interesting things I saw this week while riding the bus (this one the only exception since it took place at the bus stop). Here are the others in no particular order:

The mini poodle in footie pajamas. I'm not sure how that works when your dog needs a pottie break, but then again, I didn't notice if the tail end was open. The dog wore bright red pajamas with all all four paws covered. It was odd.

The man who met the ice. It was icy this week, and I turned my head just in time to see a young man, dressed for work with latte in hand, take a slippery step off the sidewalk and fall flat on his back in front of a crowd of pedestrians waiting for the bus. His coffee went flying in the air and sprayed all over him. I was glad I didn't miss that moment and imagined what it might it look like in slow-mo. Appeared he only hurt his pride, poor guy. At least he has a story to tell.

The imaginary sign. For the past three weeks, one man has occupied a certain stoplight corner, I think, begging for a handout. I'm not actually certain because he stands there holding up his hands like he's holding a sign, but there is no sign to be held. Then he widens his eyes and burns a stare directly into driver nearest to him. This is one moment I am truly happy to be on the bus, tho as far as I'm concerned, his imaginary sign could be offering me money, or a hug, or some sound advice.