When new acquaintances learn that I frequently ride the bus, they usually react with perplexed pity. When I tell them that I rather like riding the bus, the pity intensifies into alarm. But where else can I meet such a wide variety of people? Where else can I watch these stories unfold day by day? Where else can I smell these odors? Following are some of my favorite bus anecdotes.
1. The bus driver announced the next stop, "Federal, connecting with Route 31". He pronounced "route" like "root".
2. An older man with a stocking cap, puffy face, and bloodshot eyes asked me if I was waiting for the 15, and I replied that it would be at the stop in just a few minutes. He then sidled up to me and asked how I was doing. I gave the standard polite response then asked how he was doing. I could tell that he wanted me to ask. He told me, "I'm a bit upset today." Of course, I took the bait and asked why. He continued, "The friend I'm staying with jumped all over me about my...socks!" His voice cracked with disbelief. He looked down at his feet and exclaimed, "I changed my socks!" He then told me that he had other concerns, though, that he couldn't waste his time worrying about what his friend thought of his feet, because the rest of his clothes were still at the train station. I heartily agreed that this was a much bigger issue for concern.
3. A skinny 3 year old with a pale buzz cut, accompanied by two adolescents, sat across from me during the long ride home. One of the older kids encouraged the child to sing, and sing he did. In a thin and high-pitched voice, he hooted one song repeatedly all the way across town, "What is it that makes me whole?/ Nothing but the blood of Jeeeee-sus!" I thought to myself, why is a 3-year old concerned about being whole? "What makes me as white as snow?/ Nothing but the blood of Jeeeeeee-sus!" What, is this kid already stained with sin? But then again, the kid really liked this song, and his older friends congratulated him on each rendition.. When other passengers suggested other songs, he answered these foolish requests with a resounding, growling, "NOOOOOOO!" The only ditty that could tempt him away from the blood of Jeeeeee-sus was an improvisation in which the phrase "Stinky Dog!" was repeated fortissimo. Believe me, the kid was the most popular rider on the whole bus.
4. This elderly woman, dressed in a purple puffy coat for winter is a regular; she knows everyone on the bus. A young woman gets on day after day, leather jacket, spiky haircut; she keeps to herself. The old lady makes overtures, greetings, unreturned by the girl. The old lady says, "It's cold outside." or "There's your friend.", but the girl doesn't reply, just shoots her a puzzled look. The old lady doesn't get discouraged, though, just figures that the girl doesn't hear or understand her. The old lady takes to writing her small talk on scraps of paper, and giving them to the girl. The girl just puts the papers in her pocket, then replies, "You know, I can speak English."
5. I was on the bus with two jailbirds one morning. One had just been released two days ago and was starting a new temp job. It was practically old home week. They compared notes on various other jailbirds of their acquaintance- who looked good, who didn't, who was still in the clink. One of the jailbirds had recently been to a Shriner's circus as well, commenting that there were some "fine ass women" on the premises.
6. A fat bearded male sat in the seat in front of a petite freckle-faced maiden, both enthusiasts of renaissance faires and the Sci Fi channel. The guy handed the girl a Twix candy bar, and she ate it slowly, stripping all the chocolate and caramel off meditatively, as he intently enjoyed the performance. Some sort of fetish?
7. A scruffy wanderer in a worn shapeless tweed jacket pulled out his harmonica and wheezed a few times. The bus driver asked sharply, "Would you mind refraining from that? If you don't, the next stop is yours." All the other passengers looked up from their reading materials to witness this battle of the wills. Mr. Harmonica came back with, "Well, I guess it's adios, then. For one thing, you're too damn fat and for another thing, you're too damn rude."
And here are some quotes I've overheard on the bus...
"Listen, you get that far, you better slap your mama straight in the mouth." (An elderly man discussing Key West)
"Man, call me a lemon freak. I've been drinkin' this stuff all day, this ReaLemon juice." (A young man with half a bottle of lemon juice in his hand)
"It's bloody and gutty and nasty in there. I've seen blood wall to wall. It's like a slaughterhouse sometimes. There's even chunks of meat. And, if you get a bad liver case...whew!" (A guy from a local hospital)
"Humanity is the lowest form of human life, and you can quote me on that." (A bus-riding misanthrope)
Who are we? ©1998 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. Questions or Comments?