The day the bus stood still

I was in the first front-facing seat on the right, with a lovely view of the sideways-seats between me and the driver. Usually on the bus I'm looking out the window, but in the three sideways-seats in front of me there was only one passenger, a freckle-faced black woman wearing glasses and scrolling through her phone. She was the lovely view I mentioned, so my face was angled out the window, but my eyes were mostly watching her.

On the sideways-seats opposite her and me, a black bum was asleep, and an impatient white man in a very nice suit was leaning forward, turning his neck to see out the front windshield. A bus shakes and rattles as it rolls, which made the freckle-faced woman bounce, which made me happy, but the man in a suit was sighing every thirty seconds or so. The bus ain't for anyone in a hurry, I thought to myself. If you can afford that fancy suit, you can afford a cab.

We stopped in front of the subway station, and ten people got off the bus, five people got on. Three of them walked toward the back of the bus, out of my sight and out of this story. A middle-aged Asian woman grabbed a strap to stand, and a very old, very gray man sat down on the sideways-seat between me and the freckly woman, taking with him the view.

Being a gentleman, I stood and offered my seat to the Asian lady, slightly out of kindness, but mostly because standing and strap-hanging restored my view of the freckle-faced black woman. She was worth standing for. Perhaps overweight, yeah, but that made her exactly my size.

The traffic light had turned green, but the bus didn't pull into traffic, and the man in too nice a suit sighed again. We're ahead of schedule, I figured. It happens.

"Can we go please?" said the suit.

The bus didn't go, stayed at the stop, and the man in the suit stayed in his seat but said several more times, louder and louder, "Can we go please?" The last time he said firm and emphatic, "Can we please go?" and the black bum beside him stirred and said, "I'm trying to sleep, man."

Seated sideways on the left side of the bus, the driver couldn't see in his rear-view who was complaining. He could hear him, though, and after hearing enough the driver responded to the bus at large. "When traffic is light the bus gets ahead of schedule so we wait," he said, addressing his rear-view. "Deal with it, shut up, and let me do my job."

The light turned red, and the man in the suit sighed, but he didn't say anything. The light went from red to green, and the bus went nowhere, and the man in the suit sighed again.

The light was red, then the light was green, time stood still and so did the bus. We'd been at the bus stop for several minutes, and the man in the nice suit had stopped complaining, but he was making exasperated sounds and faces.

The black bum said, "Fuckin' relax or have your heart attack." The freckle-woman smiled, and so did I. Wish we'd smiled at each other.

The light was red, and finally the impatient man in the important suit rang the bell, and said, "Let me off, damn it."

"With pleasure," said the driver, whooshing the doors open, and the man stepped off through the bus's back door. The very instant his shoes touched the sidewalk, the driver hit the gas and we rolled north on Beacon Avenue. The black bum went back to sleep, the blonde bounced, and it was a fine afternoon.

Curious, I whipped out my schedule. The subway station is a timed stop, listed in black-and-white on the pamphlet, and yup, we were running several minutes late.


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  1. This is fucking classic Pathetic Life. Well done, man.

    1. I'm having fun here. Glad some fraction of that maybe comes across...


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