Last night on the 2 Clement, on the way home...
I got on the bus and quickly walked past the man sitting in the front. He is a familiar face around the neighborhood, always talking loudly to himself and to people who I don't think exist, often saying threatening things. He always seems agitated, wraps rubber bands around the cuffs of his pants, and reminds me of a feverish scarecrow.
I know he's got some problems he can't solve on his own, but he frightens me anyway.
He sat in the front of the bus and talked to nobody, at least, that's what I thought.
A few rows back sat an older woman with two large tote bags and two folding tables. At first I couldn't tell what they were talking about - they didn't seem to be on the same page at all - and then the man stopped himself mid sentence and asked her where she went to college.
"Me? Oh, I went to the University of Dust," she said. "Are you a student?"
"Oh yes," said the man. "Well, I'm not at school right now but I want to study the language of transport and infrastructure."
Huh, interesting, I thought.
He went on.
"Because you know, sometimes you're on a train and you can't tell what's going on because it's in a different language, and we read things one way but Germans do it another way, and then also the Israelis, because of imperialism, they're going to take over Europe."
The woman nodded. "Do you mean because they speak and read Hebrew?"
"Hebrew!" the man yelled. "Yes, exactly. It's like how Egypt doesn't have it anywhere else but for example France does." He looked at the woman. "School of Dust. Is that here in the city or in Northern California? Is it like epidemiology?"
"The School of Dust is not in California," the woman said. "It's everywhere."
She gave him an exasperated sigh. "It's not really called that. It's a code name."
They both got out at 6th Ave., the man stomping off down Clement, the woman and her many things slowly shuffling up 6th.