Bus Report #101
The 22 Fillmore was late today, and when it came Carmen said she'd been waiting a half hour. We chatted as always until the bus became so crowded we couldn't see each other across the aisle.
For most of the ride I had a knobby teenage knee pressed against my leg and a stick-thin teenage boy leg and hip against my arm. And two mammoth backpacks swinging dangerously close to my face with each new passenger let on.
"What is up with this guy?" one boy asked.
Another shouted, "hey, brother, ain't no one else gonna fit on this bus, quit stopping."
The driver stopped to let a wheelchair on, and the crowd was forced back even further to the rear.
No sight of Carmen at all.
A few people got out on Haight and I could see Carmen again. We kept looking at each other and then at the mass of passengers.
At Market street, the kids mutinied.
When the doors opened to let people on and off, they started yelling, "there's no room, there's a bus behind us, you have to wait!"
They were very insistent and the funny thing was, people listened.
Meanwhile, one of the boys had wedged himself into the seat where Carmen and her seatmate were. The kid was standing up, facing Carmen, their knees touching.
He said, "I bet you've never been this close to a black man before," and he smirked at his friends.
Carmen shook her head. "I am just enjoying my life," she said. "this is fun."
Then she said, "you remind me of my grandson."
This made the boys laugh. "Yeah, right, I'm sure," said the kid.
"No, really, he's about your age," she said. Carmen rummaged through her backpack for her wallet and took out a snapshot of her grandson. He is half black and I knew this would be a kind of funny punchline for the boys.
They took a look at the picture and smiled, laughed some more.
At 16th and Church the kids tumbled out of the bus.
Carmen and I looked at each other and smiled. "This is fun," she repeated. "This is a good time."
And it was.