Bus Stop

I take a local bus from my house, and then, I switch to an express. When I change buses, there’s a wide faced woman with Chinese eyes, maybe she’s a Native American, maybe Alaskan, maybe one of those mixed up types we have here, a little Chinese, some Pacific Islander… it’s not that important, but she’s wide and brown, about my height, and she’s right there as I step off the bus. She reaches up and grabs my shoulders like an old friend and looks me right in the eye; we are face to face.

“Oh my god, I just want to hug you! Look at you! You got off that bus like an angel! Did you see that blond woman I was talking to? She was scary. She had a big owl right here” — she holds one hand in front of her heart — “and she was wearing generic boots. What the fuck is that, with the Payless Shoe Source generic boots? But YOU, oh my god, YOU! YOU ARE AN ANGEL!”

I wasn’t scared, she wasn’t hostile.  She was right up in my face, clearly drunk, I could smell it. She wasn’t aggressive, I took her hands and released them from my shoulders and sat down on the bench. She kept talking to me, reaching down to touch my hand or squeeze my arm.

“Do you see that man right there, I’m going to marry him.”

There’s a quiet guy, on the other bench, and he looks at me with a sad smile.

“Do you believe in love at first site? Because that’s what happened to me. I met him, I fell in love. I’m going to take his last name. Sancho, Sancho,” she turns to him, “Sancho, mi amor, what’s your last name? He wants me to slow down, ” she’s turned back to me. “But I love him, I want him to love me back. Look at him, he’s handsome and I love him.”

All the time she’s reaching in and touching me on the hand, stroking my arm, like a flirt, but not, just gently asking for my attention.

“Did you see her, that blond? I know I’m ugly, I have upside down eyelids,” she points to her eyes. She is not ugly at all, she’s actually quite lovely, but so drunk. “But she didn’t have to be so mean to me, with her big owl and her generic boots. She was scary. You came off that bus like an angel, just like an angel. You’re a fucking angel. Look at you.”

Last week, while I was on the bus, a woman in a full burkah, only her eyes showing, got on, followed by a hipster boy wheeling a bright yellow unicycle.

The bus is full of freaks and magic.

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14 thoughts on “Bus Stop

  1. I know just what you mean. I love Seattle. I’ve been thinking about writing about some of the interesting people I’ve run into lately. I think I will..

  2. Now I miss the crazy bus I used to take downtown from White Center, full of great characters pulling you into awkward situations.

    The express from Bellevue just doesn’t give you this kind of fodder.

  3. I don’t ride transit so much here, but that was one of my favorite parts of living in Montreal. I’m a born people-watcher, and public transit is always fascinating.

    Montreal has a one-up in terms of their metro-rail (I think), both in convenience and people-watching. They give permits for people to busker on the platforms- there was some amazing music.

    I remember there was a guy, he stayed on one or two platforms (usually the large exhange on St. Catherine st- Beri-Uqam I think), a giant of a man with hair braided with leather down to his knees- turns out (via a couple of friends of mine) that he was an old-time strong man, probably one of the last of the ones from the Vaudville circuit, trying to rekindle interest and sell photos and stories. I wish I’d have actually talked with him now.

    Freaks and magic, and so many stories.

  4. I still remember getting on a bus after work one awful day…a foul mood weighing me down as we set off on the 1/2 hour ride home. Part way home a young man got on, strode to the back of the bus with his guitar and proceeded to hammer out music and song. No, he wasn’t good but I’m a sucker for passion and that young man turned my day around. Bus encounters can change your life.

  5. I was on a subway going from midtown Manhattan to Queens a few years ago, and a very drunk lady came aboard. Holding a battered Mets baseball cap upside down, she (loudly, drunkenly) began to sing: “When you are lonely and you’re out of bologna, you can always go….DOWNTOWN.”

    I gave her a dollar.

  6. Never a dull moment on a Seattle bus! I just had a great “fellow passenger” experience as well. My favorite time to ride the bus is when there is a demonstration or pro 420 rally downtown. The people watch is AMAZING!

  7. I love the way you tell this story, and your gentleness in dealing with the drunk, probably crazy, definitely lonely woman. I’ve had a lot of bus stories over the years myself, though I never wrote them down.

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