the freaks on the bus go round and round

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I wish I had the skills and tools of a mechanic.  I wish I could fix my car each time something goes wrong with it.  I wish I didn’t have to walk past it every morning on my way to the bus stop.  And there’s not much worse than getting home late, walking up the driveway and checking the cardboard underneath the car, just to see how much more coolant has leaked out.

And there’s nothing worse than being home today when I should be helping Krystal and Mike move into their new house.  

This sucks.

I’d like to say that something good has come from all of this, and I suppose in a way it has.  I’ve been spending an average of two and a half hours a day on the bus this week, and bus ridin’ always makes for great story fodder.  The people you see (and smell) and sit next to on the bus are an entirely different cast of characters.  They exist outside of my periphery, and when I see them face to face, I’m always struck by the fact that these people exist.

Since part of my trip has taken me along the same route I rode for a few years back in the day when I lived in Lake City (a time often refered to as my ‘tenament years’), I’ve been seeing some of the same people I used to see.  I’d forgotten about them.   They were once part of my day to day, but as soon as I stopped riding the bus, I forgot all about them.

There’s Crazy Bucket Man, who gets on the bus in Kennmore, big white bucket in one hand, a fishing pole in the other.  Seems he’s upgraded a little; he used to carry around a couple buckets and some random poles or sticks.  Now he looks like he actually has a mission.  A fishin’ mission.    And he talks to people, too–actually acknowledges others’ existence.  That’s progress right there.  His hair’s still exactly the same–poofy bangs in front, the rest held back with a rubber band.  But his face has changed some.  There’s life in it now.  I remember how he used to just stare out from behind his bangs, a long vacant stare.  Yesterday he chatted with another guy about fish.  I’d never heard his voice before.

Then I saw Weird Painted-on Eyebrow Cross Dresser Guy.  He used to ride the 44, back when I lived in Fremont.  Man, that was almost nine years ago.  I remember talking with him once.  He’d died his hair several different colors and his locks looked very much like one of those multi-colored clown wigs.  And even though everyone on the bus ooh-ed and aah-ed over his new look, he was still pretty down.  He’d been fired from his job as a shoe sales-person at Nordstrom.  Something about their dress code.  He’d mentioned suing them, and something told me he wouldn’t go through with it.  He was a bubbly sort, and was always chatting it up with someone on the bus.  When I saw him yesterday he wasn’t looking so good.  His hair was back to a one-tone yellow, eyebrows still in their odd positions high on his forehead.  But he looked lost, or maybe depressed or something.  He didn’t talk to anyone.  Just stared straight ahead.  His face looked worn, and tired.

It was as though the two guys had changed life-positions.

You miss out on a lot when you don’t ride the bus.

Other people I saw this week:

Horny Fifteen Year Old Boy who just wanted Young Girl on Cellphone to talk to him.  He was trying so hard to keep her attention.  

Cute High School Boy who wasn’t quite sure if yesterday was Friday or Saturday.  He was on his way to school (his first day) and it cracked me up that he wasn’t sure if he should be going to school or not.

Mentally Challenged Native American Girl.  She said goodbye to everyone as they got off the bus, and didn’t hesitate to point out anone who, in her opinion, was ‘pretty.’  Only a few stops from where I was to get off did she start having a conversation with someone–a woman who also turned out to be Native American.  They exchanged bits of their heritage and talked about an upcoming pow wow.  I could really see that this was one of those cosmic moments for the woman.  I watched something change in her, just over the course of a few minutes.  I need to write more about that experience.

Mattie the One Legged Cross Dresser.  I named him Mattie just because he looked like a Mattie.  If a cross dresser is going to put that much time into his/her hair and nails in spite of the fact that s/he has only one leg, well, it just seems fitting that you call her Mattie.  I wonder which came first–the loss of the leg, or the transition from man to woman.

I’m tellin’ ya, you miss a lot when you don’t ride the bus.  I wonder what I might have seen had I driven my car.  Probably the same thing I see everytime I drive my car. 

Author: Kim Sharp

more later

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