Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bus Report #590

Late the other night I walked out to Market Street with A. after drinks and dinner in North Beach. She took BART back to the East Bay. I waited at Market and Montgomery for the 38.
There were a handful of people waiting, most looked like they'd just gotten off work.
The bus was pleasantly empty at first. By the time we got to Union Square it was packed.
I sat towards the back of the bus, surrounded by tourists with big backpacks and some down-and-out folks just trying to stay upright as we rode up Geary.

One man looked very sick. He had his hood pulled up over his face but I could see his bloodshot, watery eyes and his open, toothless mouth. He clutched the pole with shiny, red, club-fingered hands. His sweatsuit was covered in flecks of dirt. No one wanted to stand near him. He didn't look like he wanted to be around us, either.
He got out at Leavenworth, lurching to the stairs and almost falling out the door.

At the Larkin Street stop I saw a familiar figure slowly walking down the aisle. It was the alien donut man, in his blue parka, his white white hair glowing under the light.
There weren't many seats available, at least that I could see from where I was sitting.
I resolved that I'd give him my seat if he needed it, even if that meant we'd have an actual interaction instead of the quick glance, nod and wave we always exchanged when I passed by the donut shop.
It didn't come to that, though. He found a seat right before the accordion section of the bus.
He sat perfectly straight in his seat, his head and shoulders up and back.
Every now and then the crowd would shift and I'd catch a glimpse of his fine white hair against his pink scalp.
He got out at the corner near the donut shop and I pictured him shuffling up the street in the dark to the brightly lit store, where he would have his usual: a cup of coffee and two glazed donuts. He'd sit in his regular spot, of course, sit there until the sun came up or until he finished his coffee, whichever happened first.


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