Saturday, November 18, 2006

#161 in the Transit Epiphanies Series

I have new buses to ride now. And I have a lot of choice. I can ride the 51, the 55, the 51X or the MAX.

I have a much shorter walk to and from my bus stop, but I never take the same bus to and from work. I'm too lazy to get up in time to catch the 55. DJClem drops me off at the corner of 59th and Ward Parkway so I can catch either the 51, 51X or the MAX.

The first time I rode the 51X I didn't like it. I ride with some bloodthirsty people and they are all blond women "of a certain age." They have sensible hair and earmuffs. I engaged in one of my favorite public hobbies, readsdropping and notice that one of them is reading In Cold Blood and another is reading The Empty Chair by James Patterson. The third person is reading a Mrs. Pollifax mystery. Nothing gory in that gentle little book.

But I do notice that we are all quiet. The bus driver has gold teeth and a sunshiny grin. He teases me when I get on the bus because I had to run the last half block to get on. He says good morning and I laugh and huff while I swipe my bus pass. This busride is eerily quiet and all the passengers are suburbanites.

I do not feel civilized enough to live in my new neighborhood. I wasn't cool enough for my old one and I'm not refined enough for this one. I'll get used to it.

The 55 going home is a little different. A blind lady rides with me every night. It's my job to tell her which bus is ours. Lots of buses stop at our stop and she needs to be certain she gets on the right one. The first time I ride the 55 a grandmotherly figure is driving. The blind lady asks Grandriver to drop her at 59th. It's too dark to see the bus stop. I ask if there's a stop at 61st and Grandriver says, "I'll make one."

The MAX is the bus I take in the morning. It's always crowded with business and office folk from the outer lying suburbs before we get into midtown and all the interesting people get on. There's Tweaky. She gets on at Linwood and is whippet thin. Not scrawny, just thin and sharp. Everything about her--her lips, her legs, her hair, her face--is sharp and thin. She has this high-pitched voice and talks like a projekt chik. She twitches a lot.

Until yesterday, there was never anything interesting about the bus riders on my new bus lines. Yesterday, something interesting happened. This tall guy in a Chiefs jacket and red ball cap, carrying a bottle of soda, got on the bus. He leaned against the bus wall behind the driver and when the bus lurched, he dropped his soda. It didn't spill, but he let out a "Dayyy--um." Some folks got off at the next stop and he sat down in one of the handicapped seats and pulled out his cell phone, flipped it open and tapped out a number. As usual, the MAX is full of quiet officefolk reading books, the morning paper, plugged into the morning news on NPR, snoozing, staring out the window, but not talking to each other. It's like riding a graveyard to work, I swear.

But THIS guy breaks the silence with, "Hey! Hey, is Peggy there? Peggy? Is she there? Put her on." I glance over, interested that FINALLY, there's some noise on this bus. Dude says, "Peggy? You 'member me? You know who this is? This is the tall white guy you used to cheat on!" INSTANTLY everyone on the bus looks up from whatever it is they're not doing and tunes in. The double take of the other bus riders cracks me up. It's a cranial chorus line to the left to look at the Cuckold. His Cheated Hart goes on, "Yeah, I bin outta town breakin' horses and ridin' bulls. Hey, how's yer sister?"

Maybe the MAX ain't so boring.

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