5. Halfwit

 

Some people make it hard to mind your own business. You’ll be intent on just sitting there, glad to have a seat as the bus chugs along. Jolting you up and down with every pothole, or crack in the pavement like it has no suspension whatsoever. But you have your own seat. In fact, everyone has their own row of two, sometimes three seats. All the crazies seem to be absent from this jaunt. It’s quiet aside from the robot voice announcing the stops. Some riders have even opened windows, to let in the fresh city air. The bright shining sun has even seemed to burn up the exhaust to an extent. Occasionally more normals get on, but they know the deal. The bus almost becomes a communal sanctuary for a few minutes. Your two dollars was never so well spent.

Then some asshole starts on his phone right behind you. This time it’s some diatribe about who he is, and what he does. He has launched into a pitch, and it’s an arrogant speech. Despite the fact he’s trying to sell himself over the phone like a common whore. Must be in the entertainment business. As I continue listening, without much choice, it’s confirmed. An actor/producer, gross. He must have gotten on a few stops back. Then decided to make this call, unable to uphold the perfect little society that self-formed several miles back.

 “I’m a person, not a theatre,” he says into the phone. “This is a theatre town, and I prefer to bring in kids from the poor side of it. Even though I’ve got people who live out in the suburbs who will do it for free.” Do what exactly I can’t determine.

 “I’ll sit them down, buy them drinks, and explain very deliberately that the theatre they’re working for isn’t paying them. I’m paying them, out of my own pocket.” Every sentence is more pretentious than the last as he continues to describe his haughty, bullshit agenda. Which makes it clear that this must be some kind of con. He’s surely in it for himself.

post 5 picFinally there’s some agreement, and he allows the other end of the call to get a few words in. Looking around, I perceive a shift in the other passengers. They’ve reverted to regarding each other disdainfully. Staking out “their area”, fighting for control over this public domain. Black exhaust from a passing garbage truck drifts in through an open window. Someone starts watching a youtube video without headphones. The damage is done, this has become any other bus ride. It’s enough to make a person want to drink. But to be honest, that comes a lot easier for some of us than others.

Without turning back, I’m picturing some hipster douche, wearing frames with no glass in them. Why isn’t he riding his unicycle today? Some kind of ridiculous facial hair is definitely not out of the question. If he’s wearing capri pants I may vomit on him. If I can summon it. Usually isn’t a problem, and I’m starting to feel nauseous. My stop can’t come up soon enough. I itch to pull the cord. What was a sanctuary, now requires an escape. With only a few blocks to go, I get up and stand by the back door.

I’m compelled to turn around, and see if my assessment was spot on. When I do, I’m surprised to find a younger Latino man. He wears gold reflective sunglasses, with a straight-brimmed ball cap turned up on his head. He also has on a hoodie, and jogging pants. My nauseousness fades, but I’m still irritated by this turn of events. I pull the cord as he continues to listen carefully to the voice coming through his phone.

I step off at the next block as he starts what would surely be another lengthy monologue. As soon as the bus pulls away, I realize I just made a crucial error. The package I was meant to deliver sat next to me. I had allowed it the window seat. And in my haste, I left it behind, on the bus. It was a dumb mistake, and I wish I could say it was the first one. I squint down the street trying to make out that buses’ number, unsure what to do next. What’s the protocol? Besides there being hell to pay.

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