Bus Report #596
The bus came a couple minutes later and I got on. It was empty so everyone had their pick of seats. I opened the window above my seat. The bus smelled like mildew and unwashed bodies.
I sat against the window, listening to music, not really paying attention to anything or anyone.
When our bus stopped at Turk a few of the usual suspects got on: the teen girl who goes to Catholic School in the Mission, the older Russian woman with the fried, permed hair and a slouchy kid with an over-sized sweatshirt.
A familiar figure got on and walked towards me. It was James, an elderly man I sometimes talk to at the coffee shop in the morning.
He smiled at me and sat down beside me. "You stay out here?" he asked. "I thought you stayed by the coffee shop."
"Nope, I'm over in the Richmond," I said. "And I thought YOU lived closer to Potrero."
He shook his head. "I just like to get out in the morning and go somewhere, get some coffee." He laughed and his whole body shook. "I've got nothing else to do," he said.
James has a small diamond stud in his left ear. He is clean-shaven, with big wire frame glasses, a black baseball cap and if he isn't wearing a Giants jacket he's wearing a black sweatshirt. He stutters a little when he talks but it is barely noticeable.
He's lived in San Francisco for over forty years. He's retired now, and spends his time visiting his friends and family and drinking coffee at the coffee shop near my office. He's a friendly, chatty man and someone I always look forward to seeing.
I pulled the signal cord as we approached my usual stop.
"I usually get out at the next one," James said, "But I'll walk with you today."
We waited at the corner for the light to change.
"I don't feel like getting hit by a car today," I said, as a red Camry bore down on us.
He laughed. "Me, either. I'm 72 this year and I don't need to go that way."
We walked to the coffee shop together. The baristas were all dressed in 60s-style garb, and they had some music on. "It's 60s day!" said P., which made his hippie headband and necklaces make more sense.
James, always the gentleman, motioned for me to get in line in front of him.
"Thanks," I said.
When I put in my coffee order I leaned in close to K. (dressed in a green and cream patterned button up shirt, how retro!) and said, "Is there any way I can get his coffee, too, whatever he's getting?"
We were conspirators now. She nodded, shot James a glance. "No problem," she said.
When L. started to ring him up, she said, "It's already taken care of."
I thanked the ladies and wished everyone a great day.
"I'll see you later, James," I said, as he settled into his usual seat by the window.
"You have a good day now," he said, lifting his coffee cup in my direction.
"You,too," I said.