Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bus Report #624

Friday afternoon on the 19 Polk.
You can sit in the back of the bus with a family of loud talking teenagers, or in the front with a toothless woman who says "Hello" any time your glance drifts toward her and the window.
You choose the woman, deciding that repeated friendly greetings are more your speed than cackling teenagers.
The bus stays oddly empty until Market. Usually this is the stop where the 19 empties out, but not today.
A dozen students from the ballet school get on, and then a handful of other folks who suck their teeth at the students and tell them to move to the back of the bus, come on now, move.
A man stands next to you. He clutches a cup of coffee in one hand and holds onto the back of your seat with his other hand.
The pocket of his stained jacket rests on your shoulder. No amount of wriggling or leaning away from him seems to help. The pocket is not going anywhere. He talks to himself. Sometimes loudly, sometimes in a voice barely above a whisper.
"You can't go in without an appointment," he says. "You gotta make the appointment and you gotta show up early so they know you're there. You gotta make the appointment." He watches a young man slip in to the only open seat in the front of the bus. "Unh uh," says the man standing next to you. "You can't take that seat, gotta leave it for a lady."
Even though it doesn't seem possible, even more people crowd in on Larkin. The driver tells everyone to move on back.
Someone standing in the back of the bus yells back, "Ain't anywhere else for us to go."
The man standing next to you gets out at Sutter. Your shoulder is finally pocket-free.
A few blocks later, you turn to your toothless seat mate and ask her to pull the signal cord for you.
She says, "hello," and pulls the cord, and smiles a mushy but sweet smile before you stand up and get out of the bus.


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