Bus luck

On the #120 southbound to Burien, a young and too skinny white guy sat in the sideways seats ahead of me. An unlit cigarette was wedged in his lips, and he was mumbling to himself with a lot of yo mommas. Something something yo momma, and then a bit of silence and then Something something else yo momma.

The man's nose had been broken long ago and was slightly misaligned, his hair hadn't been combed this month, and still he prattled on and on about yo momma. 

A few of his yo mommas were toward me, like he wanted my attention. And he had it, but discreetly. He wasn't someone I'd want to say howdy to.

On Delridge Way, he rang the bell which signals the driver to stop, but a block later he'd forgotten he wanted off. The bus pulled over, the driver waited, but the young guy was all Something something yo momma again, lost in his shallow repetitive thoughts. When nobody stepped off the bus, the driver merged into traffic and we rolled away again.

What drug was yo momma man on? I wondered. Might've been heroin, maybe meth, or the new wonder drug, fentanyl. Might've been something else. I don't keep up with the latest fads. 

Five blocks later he was suddenly angry, shouting "Let me off, let me off!" and "You missed my stop!" No, dude, the driver didn't miss your stop, you missed your stop. "Let me off!" he yelled again.

We were waiting at a traffic light, not a bus stop, but the driver said, "Absolutely," and opened the door. The yo momma man stepped off, still muttering.

Now here's the craziest part. Soon as he'd left us, an old but seemingly normal woman who'd been sitting far behind me hurried up, and took what had been the yo momma man's seat.

I'm not too phobic or I couldn't ride the bus, but I'd never take a crazy man's seat immediately after he'd gotten up and gotten off. It's just good hygiene. You have to give the air a few minutes to clear, or you'll breathe deep the gathering gloom.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

At Westwood Village, where we crossed 25th Avenue SW, I glanced and saw that a #560 bus was waiting. That's the end and beginning of the #560 route, which means it probably wouldn't be pulling away instantly, so I took a chance.

See, both the #120 and the #560 go to the Burien Transit Center, but the #560 is run by a different agency. It's a nicer bus, with more comfortable seats, warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and it makes fewer stops so it gets where it's going quicker. I rang the bell, hopped off, and darted around the corner to where the #560 stops.

Made it. The bus hadn't pulled away. It was still idling, half a block down the street, while the driver took a break.

Waiting a few minutes wouldn't matter, for me. I could wait there ten minutes, and the #560 would still get to Burien before the #120 I'd been riding.

A schedule posted on a post said that the bus down the street would pull up and take me away in only four minutes. I fantasized about the luxury of sitting in a soft seat, in a warm bus that doesn't rattle loudly, and doesn't stop for passengers at every intersection. The #560 is the promised land of buses.

It was raining lightly, and I'd forgotten my umbrella, which means I was getting wet, but that's OK. Soon, the promised land of buses would take me to beautiful Burien.

Only it didn't. My mind wandered and I got wetter waiting, but the #560 parked half a block away stayed parked half a block away.

The bus stop has a shelter, but a 30-something white lady was standing under it, with her kid who looked about five. Joining them in the shelter would've put me too close, violating COVID clearance rules, and even without disease, I'd rather be wet than get too close to people.

So I stood in the misty rain. More time went by. A few more people joined us at the bus stop, and still I stood, watching the #560 that was just sitting there, half a block away.

The little kid said, "Mommy, when is the bus coming?" 

"I don't know, honey," she said, but the question made me musical. There's a song I've made up, and sometimes I sing it at the bus stop. It's called "The Bus Will Come," and it goes a little something like this:

The bus will come
when the bus will come
and that's when the bus will come

Usually I sing it only when I'm waiting alone, but the kid had asked, and my answer was more informative than his mother's, so I sang a few verses (every verse is the same). The lady clutched her kid's hand tighter, but on the third verse he joined me and sang along, "and that's when the bus will come."

The bus didn't come, though. I checked my watch and realized I'd been standing in the rain for 23 minutes. My bus short cut had become a long cut, and the #560 was still idling half a block away. 

It's a bus that runs only once every half hour, so it was either twenty minutes late or coming in ten minutes. And I stayed and waited in the rain.

The bus will come
when the bus will come
and that's when the bus will come

In fifteen more minutes, the next #560 was five minutes late, but still parked half a block away.

For whatever reason, that bus wasn't in service. It's a frown, but it's part of riding the bus, so I did not flip off the driver. Did not walk half a block to pound on his door. I didn't even swear.

I simply walked around the corner to catch the next southbound #120. Looked over my shoulder as I walked, of course, because nothing makes a bus come quicker than giving up on it, but the #560 remained parked.

Half an hour of my life had been lost, and I was waterlogged from ears to ankles, but that's bus luck.

Sometimes you get good bus luck, and sometimes you get bad bus luck. Which is just another way to say that the bus will come when the bus will come and that's when the bus will come.

♦ ♦ ♦  

When the next southbound #120 came, the #560 was still parked. Bad bus luck indeed. And onward we rolled, stopping at most of the big intersections.

At one of then, some guy in a puffy coat was waiting for the bus, but instead of being at the bus stop, he was leaning on the sidewalk-side of a parked construction vehicle, smoking a cigarette. He was blocked from the driver's view, or even mine — I only saw him because his cigarette smoke was visible in the cold air, which made me curious, so I'd turned around and looked behind the bus as we went past.

And at that moment the guy saw the bus, spit out his cigarette and started screaming, "Stop! Stop!" 

I'm not sure whether the driver heard him, but we didn't stop.

It's the first rule of riding the bus, dude. You want a ride? Wait at the bus stop. Hiding is not a good idea.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

When at last we reached the Burien Transit Center, it was the end of the line, so there was no need to ring the bell. The bus pulled over, and everyone stepped off.

I waited a moment for the crowd to clear, and when I stood, my very wet foot slid on the bus's wet floor, straight ahead full force into the rear tire's wheel well. Sweet mother of Mary, grandmother of Christ, it hurt soooo much.

The Lord's name erupted out of my mouth at a high volume. The driver yelled at me to get off the bus, so off I limped. Then I walked around the bus station, but shitfuck and a half, it hurt. 

After five minutes of some of the worst pain in my life, it faded to ten minutes of excruciating pain, and after that, really bad pain.

At home I desockified and looked, and my big toenail had been knocked clean off. After I'd been home for an hour it only occasionally throbbed, and now it's been a week, and the toe only hurts when I'm pulling on my socks or slipping into shoes.

Stay tuned for any further toe updates.



🚨🚨 Click here if you have problems posting a comment. 🚨🚨