The bus was driven by an old white man with a big white beard. He looked like Santa Claus, but he was Santa's opposite.

It takes some effort to keep a long beard from looking wild, and his beard was very tidy, so when I saw him through the window as he wheeled the bus into the stop, I thought about complimenting him as I stepped up and paid the fare. His glare told me to say nothing, so I simply paid and took a seat.

As I was settling in, the driver barked "Sir!" so loud that I thought he was yelling at me, but no, he was yelling at a black guy, up front by the fare box. "Sir!" he shouted again. "The fare is $2.75." Very stern, very loud.

The black guy did look somewhat questionable. He was maybe 30, with pants belted way below his groin (which I didn't know was still a stupid style) and a look on his face that somehow announced that he'd used a lot of drugs.

They looked at each other, the black druggie and the angry bearded driver, and the driver knocked on the fare box three times, hard enough it must've hurt his knuckles. Again he said, "The fare is $2.75."

Even though I was watching, I'm not sure what happened next. The black guy slowly reached toward the fare box, dunno why, and the driver shouted "Don't you even think about it!" loud enough to rouse the drunks on the sidewalk.

Black guy, louder: "I wasn't gonna—"

Driver, quieter: "Don't you—"

Black guy: "Why are you giving me attitude?"

Which was the question, indeed. The driver was furious about $2.75, so the black guy probably hadn't paid, or hadn't paid enough, but — so what. Bums and poor people ride the bus without paying all the time, and very few drivers hassle them about it.

Drivers don't get a commission off the fare box. His paycheck is the same, whether everyone pays or nobody pays, so this was just a driver being a prick.

I'm not sure why the black guy had reached toward the fare box, but again — so what. The fare box is locked down like an ATM; nobody can break into it. Maybe he was thinking of stealing a transfer. Whatever. I didn't and don't think he was up to anything that deserved "Don't you even think about it."

And then, quick as the bus driver had started the argument, it was over. The black guy turned and walked away, and took a seat, and the bus driver closed the door, and pushed the bus back into traffic.

He wanted to challenge a passenger over not paying the fare? That's asinine, but if he wants to do that, do that — call 9-1-1, or tell him to get off the bus, or I dunno, take a swing at him. He didn't do any of that, though. All he wanted to do was yell at a man for having no money and paying no fare, and then he let him ride. That's crazy, ain't it?

♦ ♦ ♦

A week later, that same driver was driving the same route and I was riding again, and he was a prick again. This time, he was a prick to me, among others.

I was waiting on the sidewalk with three other people, including an old Mexican gent. Here comes the bus, and anti-Santa was driving. Same beard, same glare, and I knew there'd be trouble.

He pulled into the stop and opened the bus's front door, and the Mexican gent stepped onto the bus. That's what you do at a bus stop, but the driver yelled at him: "Get off the bus!"

Mexican guy: "What? What is it?"

Driver: "Off! Get off, damn it."

The wanna-be passenger mumbled something in Spanish, but he obeyed — turned around and got off the bus. That's when we saw through the side windows that a lady was waiting to step off, and she had a baby stroller. Strollers sometimes need the wheelchair treatment, lowering the ramp and all that, so the driver lowered the ramp, the lady with the stroller got off the bus, the driver raised the ramp, and then he said to the Mexican guy, "Now it's your turn."

Unnecessarily rude, seems to me. The driver could've said, "Just a moment, stroller coming through," but instead he shouts, "Get off the bus!"?

"That driver is a prick," I said to the Mexican guy, but I definitely said it so softly that only he could hear. The man nodded and smiled at me, and we got onto the bus. The driver could not have heard me, and I said nothing else.

Several blocks down the same street, a couple of bums got on, one white, one black, and it was a replay of the black guy incident from a week earlier, only a little less rude. They got on, and didn't pay, and the driver shouted, "Hey! Hey! The fare is $2.75!"

There was no confrontation, though. They simply ignored him, went to the back of the bus and sat down, and then the driver drove the bus. So again, his yelling was only for the fun of yelling. He didn't actually enforce the rule about collecting the fare; he only hollered about it.

The bus trundled on, and when we got to where I was going, I rang the bell to step off at the stop. I'd never noticed before, but at this stop the 'bus stop' sign is very close to the curb. The driver pulled to the curb and stopped, exactly where the sign's metal pole blocked the front door. There was about a foot and a half clearance on either side of the pole, but I'm a fat man, couldn't squeeze out the door and around the pole, and didn't try. I simply stood at the front of the bus, looked at the pole blocking the door, and then looked at the driver.

"Please exit the bus by the rear door," he said. That's another rule, but he's the first driver I've seen enforce it. And he enforced it by stopping with the door blocked.

I walked to the back of the bus, trying not to laugh before stepping off, and wondering if he'd drive the bus away before I got to the door. He waited, let me step down to the curb, and as the bus roared away, I giggled and then laughed.

I've had only two rides with that driver, been on his bus for maybe 25 minutes total, and in that short time he's been rude to five people. He's a driver who's looking for trouble.

He'll get no trouble from me, of course. I'm a fat wimpy old guy, not someone who'd get all furious about a driver being an ass. Some drivers are asses. It happens. Que sera sera.

This is a big city, though, with some people who aren't as nice as me. Or as wimpy. If that driver keeps looking for trouble, he'll find it.


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  1. still hooked, you're like some strange drug, hmm...

    1. Oh, can I be codeine? It's my favorite pain-killer and sleeping aid.

    2. but i can't get my vista de peyote or eel paradise monikers in there, so anon...

    3. My god is Codeine still available? I remember puking on it after wisdom tooth extraction fifty years ago. I thought we’d upgraded to more dangerous stuff, but I’m not exactly an expert.

    4. Has it been upgraded out of popularity? It's the drug that always worked best for me. I still have an illegal stash, pills bought from others and probably expired by now.

      Anyone who wants to sell their codeine, contact me.

    5. Sorry, but yeah, Google's recent rejiggering of the comments system has led to lots more anonymous comments, because it's difficult to tell Google you're not whoever Google thinks you are. Even I've noticed that, when I'm posting comments that come in via email...


The site's software sometimes swallows comments. For less frustration, send an email and I'll post it as a comment.