3-2-09 / Nights in White Tanktops

3 03 2009

Attention all late teen/early twenties caucasian male residents of Springfield who ride the bus:

Unless you are The Fresh Prince, you are not allowed to wear your hat sideways.


2-28-09 / Metamushill

2 03 2009

An old man gets on the bus. I’m sitting at the front, so I start to get up so he can sit down, but he stands, grasping a rail at the top of the bus with each hand. He tells the driver:

“If I sit down, it will take me half an hour to get back up again.” He laughs.

The driver replies “Ok, as long as you don’t fall down.”

The man shoots back “Oh that would take me forty five minutes.”

They both laugh. I chuckle to myself as the old man continues.

“I’m not good on my feet. Don’t ever have a stroke. That’s what did it.”

The driver asks him where he is headed.

“I’m going to the Busy Bee Cafe. They’ve got really good food. And, at a fair price.”

The impromptu review from an old man on the bus sounds good enough for me. I make a mental note to stop in there sometime after I am working again.

2-27-09 / I wonder what Macho Man Randy Savage is doing right now

27 02 2009

At the bus stop I realise I have a few minutes to wait, so head over to a nearby market to offload a winning lottery ticket. I won’t be retiring anytime soon, but the $3 I won will be good for a day pass tomorrow. I try to make eyes at the pretty blonde, but she’s busy. I cash out with the other clerk and make my way back to the stop.

Later that day, at the Eugene Station, I head into the market and pick up a couple of jerky sticks and a soda. Truly, the Dinner of Champions. I walk out and take a seat at the EMX platform. To the right of me is a boy who looks like he is six or seven, and to the right of him is a mid-teen girl complaining into her cellphone about something. I assume it’s the boy’s sister. I look ahead listlessly and wait for the bus.

Out of nowhere, the boy turns to me. “I like Jerky” he says loudly.

“Me too.” I reply.

We talk about jerky for a few minutes while the sister talks on, oblivious.

“Do you like the teriyaki kind?” I ask the boy.

“I think so.” He says.

I break a piece off and hand it to him. He shows me his GameBoy. We talk about games, and then he tells me about his Poke’Mon for a while until the EMX arrives.

“Gotta go. See you later, dude.” I tell him.

“See ya.” He replies, and then tugs on his sister’s sleeve.

I get up to put my soda can under the trash before I get on the bus. I don’t think the boy’s sister knew I had even been there. It’s a good thing for the boy that I am not a kidnapper, and it’s a good thing for the sister that the chances of her parents reading this are practically null.

I don’t know what bothers me more, that the girl was so careless watching that little boy, or the fact that we live in a world where she should have to be cautious in the first place.

On the EMX I again get funneled toward the back. I’m checking out a gorgeous brunette when someone toward the middle starts singing Summertime. The bus is packed so I can’t see who it is, but whoever it was she had a pretty nice voice.

When my last stop of the night comes up I get off, and it’s still semi early in the evening. I don’t plan on taking the bus anymore today, so I leave my day pass next to the bench under a pebble.

2-26-09 / Honey on her Tongue

26 02 2009

It’s early morning again as I walk up to the bus stop. At least it’s not raining this time.

I’m there for around five minutes when an old woman sneaks up on me. She starts asking me how my morning is and oh God she pulls out a handful of magazines. Watchtower. I knew it!

She tells me about God and Hell and helping people and teaching our next generation the right way to live for the next ten minutes while I smile and nod politely, throwing in an occasional “uh-huh”. When she is finished I tell her I hope she has a good morning and she leaves.

I feel nothing but confusion over a group of people that refuse to accept blood transfusions, and nothing but pity over a group of people who refuse to celebrate birthdays, but there is some admiration for an old lady running around at 5:30 in the morning in the freezing cold trying to (in her mind) better the lives of strangers.

I saw the True Love woman and her husband again today. They walked right by but I don’t think they recognised me. Her face looks a lot better.

2-24-09 / Olfaction Jackson

24 02 2009

It’s a little after 5:40 in the morning and I’m hanging out at a bus stop.

I missed my appointment the other day for the annual physical that is a requirement when you donate plasma, so today I want to get in early, see if someone doesn’t show up, and then slide into their time slot as a walk-in.

On the way to the stop I realised that I only had a five in my wallet, so I figured I would stop at the coffee stand near the stop to break it. As I approach the window I see a brunette, her eyes are fixed on a something in her hands that looks like a small notebook. She’s cute. I say hi and she jumps. We laugh and she breaks the bill. The smell of brewing coffee reminds me of my first apartment, working nights and drinking it black because I couldn’t afford milk.

I make my way to the stop as the wind picks up and I feel the beginnings of a drizzle. This was a stupid idea. I should have bought a coffee from the brunette.

Later on, a middle aged woman gets on the bus and takes a seat directly behind me. After a minute I can smell her perfume. It’s the same perfume that an ex-girlfriend of mine used to wear. We were coworkers, and I ended up quitting the job after we split up. I miss the job. It was unfulfilling and the pay was shit, but I liked the people and it was easy. I miss her a little too. Of all the women I am not on speaking terms with anymore, I think she is the only one that I regret.

At the Station I get off and find my next bus.

I lived in San Francisco for a while when I was a child (in the Tenderloin, but those are stories for a different day), and there was an Asian family that lived in the same building as I did. Everytime I walked down the hallway past their apartment there was always a very strong smell that would sit in the hallway.It wasn’t bad, but it certainly was different. I don’t know if it was the cooking, or the fact that they had a ton of people living in the place, but every time I passed their door it was there. The exact same smell.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on to the bus and there it was.

Later on I find myself at a stop with a decent wait ahead of me. After a while a homeless man walks up and sits next to me. He pulls a set of headphones with a built in AM/FM radio out of his backpack. He can’t figure out which way the batteries go, so I help him out. We strike up a conversation.

First, it’s the weather. I wait for it. Then, we talk about local radio stations. I wait for it. The minute the topic turns to the economy I know it’s coming, and before too long it happens. He hits me up for bus fare. I shoot him down.

He looks at the headphones in his hand. “Gonna sell these for a dollar. At the Station.” He leaves.

At the Eugene Station the platform for the EMX is a crowd. I end up in the back. After a few stops, another homeless man gets on and sits in the seat across from me. He reeks. It seems like a 50/50 mixture of the stale beer smell that pervades the recycling center at WinCo on a hot day, and pure despair. The smell makes me think of sorting bottles and cans at the market I worked at. I’m not a germaphobe, but I always wore long gloves during, and scrubbed up like I was going into surgery afterward.

The man has two bags of empty cans with him, set down at his feet. The EMX takes a harder than average turn and one of them topples over, spilling cans everywhere. A couple of them start to roll past me and I stop them with my foot. Steel Reserve tall boys (big surprise).

The man gathers the cans back into his bag, and then fishes a napkin out of his pocket and tries to wipe some of the spilled liquid off of the floor. He gets off at the next stop. I think he does it because he’s embarassed, because we’re miles away from any places where he can recycle those cans.

2-14-09 / Locomotive Breath

14 02 2009

A conversation struck up between me and a fellow passenger on my last ride home that was unremarkable except for the fact that the woman had the absolute worst breath I have ever smelled. I tried leaning away, but to no avail. I couldn’t think of a way to end the conversation without making myself look like a jerk (the lady was nice), so I lied to her and told her the next stop was mine. I got off, walked to a nearby market, bought a soda, and was back in time to catch the next one.

On the first bus ride of the day, though, I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so very tired. It was everything I could do not to fall asleep. If you ride the bus long enough, you’ll see someone sleeping from time to time. I always wonder if I should wake them up or not, but they always seem to wake up on their own whenever we pull into a station.

I’ve only fallen asleep on the bus once.

When I was a teenager I went to a party at a friend’s house on Halloween night. After the party ended, three of my friends and I all started walking home. We all lived in relatively the same direction, so we walked in a group, every so often one of us would branch off. Eventually, it was just me. I wasn’t able to get a ride home, and the buses had stopped running, so I was going to have to walk from right around Thurston High School all the way down to 4th street. It was cold, but I had a small blanket I had borrowed wrapped around my shoulders. I was pretty unhappy, but figured there were plenty of worse things than a long walk, and I wasn’t exactly relishing going home anyway. At least the walk would sober me up.

Walking past Albertson’s, I notice a number 11 is pulling up (this was before the EMX existed, back when the 11 went from Springfield to Eugene and back) as I walked up to a stop. Surprised (I assumed I had either read the timetable wrong or they were running a special bus because it was Halloween), I show the driver my pass, and get on. I sit down toward the middle of the bus, on the left side, lean up against the window, and promptly pass out.

I wake up to a passengerless bus, slowly turning. I look out the window and realize we are pulling into the bus garage. “Oh shit” goes through my mind “She didn’t see that I was still on because I was slumped over with a blanket covering most of me”, and I sit up. The driver is parking, and I walk down the aisle to tell her I’m still on the bus. I get to aboout two feet behind the white line and as I stop to tell her what happened, she turns around and lets loose the most bloodcurdling scream I have ever heard in my life. It chilled me to the bone. I had never felt more physical fear before or since that instant.

So, naturally, I screamed back.

“Oh Jesus!” She says “You scared me!” Her eyes are wide, she’s breathing heavily.

“S-s-s-sorry” is all I can stammer out.

I’m fairly confident we took ten years off of each other’s lives that night. I felt terrible. It’s dark, it’s Halloween, it’s so late, and here this lady is just trying to park her bus so she can go home and some doofus teenager scares the bejeesus out of her. I apologised, and we sort of laughed about the situation, and she gave me directions to where I was headed. Lucky for me, I wasn’t too far off.

I was thinking of this while I was on the bus, and it made me chuckle a little bit.

Then I remembered it was Valentine’s Day, and I was single, and I frowned again.

2-7-09 / The nEu Pornographers

7 02 2009

On the EMX today I bumped into a guy who works at one of the businesses I’ve applied at. He asked me if I’ve gotten a call yet. I tell him I haven’t, but the last time I went in the manager remembered my name, and we had a conversation about Ernest Hemingway, so I guess that’s good. He laughs. He’s actually on his way to work, but when he hits the button to signal a stop the driver keeps going. He gets off at the next stop. He is less than enthused. It’s a long walk.

On another bus, four kids are sitting to the left of me, talking about what parties are going on tonight. One of them is eating skittles. He drops a green one on the floor, bends over, picks it up, and eats it. He’s braver than I am.

Later in the day I stop by Pita Pit, order a pita, and make eyes at the girl behind the counter. Nothing too overt, though, I figure a pretty girl working with the public like her gets hit on by enough creeps during the day. Afterward I walk across the street to the Eugene Station. As I walk toward the bay I walk past a man who is standing still, looking at a poloroid of a naked woman that he is holding in front of him. The two thoughts that go through my head at about the same time are “I wonder what his story is” and “I didn’t know Poloroid was still in business”.

I sit down on a bench, eat my Pita, and wait for my bus.