Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bus Report #879

It was late, and I was tired, blinking in the florescent light of the 22 Fillmore.

A man sat down beside me. He didn't leave any space between our bodies and I tried to slide closer against the window but it made no difference. The entire length of our ride I could feel his thigh against my thigh, his shoulder and arm against my shoulder and arm.
He smelled peculiar; like cigarettes and fresh mint but something earthier, deeper than cigarettes and mint. Something I've never smelled before. Almost astringent.

He had two plastic shopping bags, heavy with groceries. He set them down between his legs and spent most of the ride keeping the bags upright, and trying to catch my eye.
I've had a cold this week and my voice was shot, my mouth and throat dry, a cough trying to free itself from my chest. I did not want to talk to my seat mate. I wanted to go home.

Near Turk Street he rummaged in one of the bags and took out a red delicious apple, slightly bruised.
He held it out to me and his bloodshot eyes seemed to be imploring me to take it.
"No, thanks," I said, shaking my head. "No, thanks."
He said, "Me, Jordan. No English."
"You're from Jordan?" I croaked. My voice was not behaving.
"Jordan," he confirmed, trilling the 'r' and the 'd' just slightly.
He held my gaze and didn't look away. I didn't know what to say. I thought of his full grocery bags, of the apple.
I smiled and said the only thing I could think of that he might understand. "Ramadan?"

His eyes bore into mine for another moment. I tried to telegraph what I really meant to say to him: I hope you have a good Ramadan, I hope you have friends and family to share it with, and thank you for offering me your apple. You may not be from here, but you are welcome and I wish you well.

He nodded, slowly. "Yes, Ramadan. You? Jordan?"
"No," I said. I jabbed my finger at my chest. "American. From here."

The bus pulled in to Geary and I gestured that we'd reached my stop. "Good night," I called back to him as I ran down the stairs and dashed across the street to catch the 38 Geary.


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