Riding a city bus to and from work has always been like going into a theater with up front seats. Occasionally the rides to and from downtown were uneventful and I was able to make some progress with a current novel.
Some quieter events included seeing a man get on the bus and sit down, then get up and move his hand around the entire two person seat he selected, from the rail behind the seat to the floor under it as if he were gently cleaning it or enclosing it in a good wish. He would sit down and then get up and repeat the process and I felt very sad watching him. In time he got off the bus. I had the feeling that he didn’t even know where he was.
There was one young man who always wore a jacket and a winter cap, regardless of the weather. Once a teenager grabbed the cap and hopped off the bus. The strange young man ran out the door after him, reclaimed his cap and came back into the bus through the front door before the bus moved.
There were people who seemed to have forgotten to take their medicines and just sat or stood in the aisle laughing. One youngish woman was carrying on a conversation with herself, quietly, but clearly her lips were moving as she opened and closed her handbag. There was one middle aged woman who talked so loudly it was not possible to focus on reading and her conversation was so personal it was embarrassing just to hear her talking about things like her bi-polar sister who developed that condition after her first menstration.
One young man probably in his late thirties sat next to me and his thumb was dripping occasional drops of blood. I suggested he hop off at Metro and have it taken care of but he visibly shivered at the thought and said, “Metro. Oh, no no no…” he went on about the psych ward there and I guessed he experienced it. An elderly man in a polyester jacket got onto the bus and the young man next to me said, “If you EVER see me in a get up like that, just shoot me!” I said, “But look at how happy he is, he may feel he is wearing his Sunday best.” Then he said, “Oh, that may be right…” Thankfully he got off the bus before we turned onto Brookpark Road and also thankfully I never saw him again.
One young woman got onto the bus, hunched down into a seat and began shouting vulgarities. The driver called for help and the police came and removed her without incident from the bus.
A woman wearing a blue tee shirt got off the bus at a dollar store and as I read the yellow wording on the back of the shirt, Nothing over two dollars! I said to my seat mate, they couldn’t pay me enough to wear that shirt!! She said, Get your mind out of the gutter!
Probably the most peculiar of incidents happened one winter day. There I was dressed in my heavy winter coat, muffler, probably 3 nested knit caps, (I believe it was a three cap day, sometimes it was less cold and I only wore one or two knit caps at one time), slacks under my dress, mittens and of course, boots. There was barely room for me to fit into the seat. A lady from my street known for talking constantly was in the seat behind me to witness, and of course broadcast what transpired next. A young man (seventeen years younger than I, which I learned when he told me when he graduated from high school and asked me when I did – which he probably thought was more tactful than out right asking how old I was!) stuffed himself into the space remaining in the seat and immediately put his arm around me. I was too amazed to do more than give him a quizzical glance. He talked about his work at Good Will Industries and that he happened to be on the bus at this time so he could attend a meeting. He used his free arm to dig a small packet of donuts out of a pocket and proceeded to eat them, offering me one, for which I thanked him, but said no. He got off the bus long before we arrived downtown and of course the teasing and laughter began and my shrugging it off, insisting not only did I not know him, I never saw the guy before, and the same hilarity resumed on the evening ride home. Happily I never saw him again, nor would I have recognized him if I had.
I really don’t know why it is many people don’t want to take advantage of public transportation.