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Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI
Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI
It is not just Hawiian ladies who wear the cut out jeans.. high end designers now make them
by SBG San Antonio
Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI
Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI
BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI (3)
Snapshots on the Bus
The other day, while I was taking the bus to the fitness center, two middle-aged women began conversing in Chinese across the aisle from me. One of them had a decibel-shattering, menacing voice: She barked, she cackled, she assaulted the language. I guessed that someone or somebody had outrageously annoyed her. Her companion, on the other hand, was subdued, soft-spoken, and seemingly compliant. I thought about telling the bus driver to quiet the obstreperous lady, but fortunately for me, the two women moved to the back of the bus. I was fortunate in another way: if I had reported the loud lady, I might have been accused of cultural insensitivity or even racism.
On the ride home, I witnessed the interaction of two young non-Asian women seated across from me. One of them was either resting or asleep. The other one, very much awake, began lovingly caressing/massaging the bare upper legs and (soon afterward) the lower arms of the other young lady, who remained impassive, her eyes still closed throughout the sensuous routine that lasted for a few minutes. These two women could have been sisters, good friends, or lovers. It was immaterial to me. I had no intention of reporting their conduct.
What a diverting change from the raucous verbal onslaught that I had witnessed earlier on the bus!
CONTINUATION OF SNAPSHOTS ON AND AROUND THE BUS
Today, on the bus ride to the gym, I noticed a very large cocoa- skinned young woman who spread herself and her cosmetic bag over two seats next to the window exit. What struck me the most was not her ample size but her vigorous and incessant application of blush, rouge, eye shadow, eye liner, and lipstick found in her myriad array of cosmetic confections sporting tiny mirrors. After using each item, she stared at her image for a few seconds and then grabbed another case. Occasionally, she would backtrack for another round of applications. Sometimes she would smear a cosmetic on her arm and then almost abrasively rub it along her cheek. Fifteen minutes later when I departed the bus, the young lady was still roughly doctoring her face. I couldn’t tell if her painstaking routine made any difference in the way she looked, but she certainly had me mesmerized.
While waiting for a bus after leaving the fitness center, I saw a weathered old man surrounded by some of his belongings that overflowed from a heap of garbage bags. Cigarette smoke makes me nauseous, so when I noticed that he took out a cigarette and a lighter, I began to walk away. However, I stopped short because it looked like the man didn’t intend to light the cigarette. Initially, he just stared at it: the unlit cigarette seemed to bewilder and fascinate him. For a couple of minutes, he alternately scrutinized, fingered, and rotated the cigarette; then he broke it in two equal pieces and repeated this routine until only a few slivers were left. Then he delicately secreted the remains into a bulging pouch, drew out another cigarette, and proceeded ever so slowly to concentrate on it and tear it apart as he had done to the other one.
As I began to board the bus, the man was still obsessively (in slow motion) enacting his routine, just as when I had earlier exited a bus, the woman was still obsessively (in fast-forward mode) putting on her makeup.
Riding the bus so often gives me the opportunity to observe and expound upon people’s quirks. Hurrah to local (and sometimes loco) color.
All too often I have noticed a forbidding taut middle-aged woman at the gym and on the bus. She invariably glares at everyone who passes by, including me. Her lips are pursed and her pasty face is pinched. Her entire body is gaunt and stiff as if she has drunk a caustic witch’s brew. An unwrapped mummy would be more inviting than she is. Whenever I glance at her, I can feel my blood congeal.
Until yesterday, I had never heard her say a word. While I was seated a few rows back on a crowded bus, I saw the hag enter the bus. Just as she got on, she glowered at a flabby young woman (with a child on her lap) seated in the elderly and disabled section. Then she snapped, “That’s my seat. Get up.” Such entitlement, such gall coming from someone who, admittedly physically fit—but socially unfit—would have no trouble standing up on the bus! The other woman, obviously intimidated, lifted her child, and shuffled to the back of the bus.
There is no doubt that the imperious, uncharitable older woman was a stickler for protocol. After all, she probably was born with a stick up her behind. Removing it would be a challenge, even for Hercules.
Who Let the Genie out of the Bottle? Young women in Hawaii often wear “damaged” jeans with either single or multiple snips, slits, slashes, gashes, and dangling threads, sometimes accompanied with the white inside pocket lining fully or partially visible. I have never understood the significance of this decades-old fashion tradition, nor do I find these jeans attractive. The other day on the bus, I saw a grotesque example of this fetish to display ripped jeans. A tall young lady wore once-intact full-length jeans that were scooped out to expose her body from high above her knees to just above her ankles. I couldn’t help but stare at her—discreetly, of course. Unfortunately, I left the bus before she did, so I didn’t have a chance to see how awkwardly she would walk, never mind race, with the remainder of her jeans flapping about her sides.
Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES
Re: BUS STOP ODDITIES
BUS STOP ODDITIES IN WAIKIKI (2)
Sometimes, I think that I am the maestro of minor mishaps. This week was no exception. When I tried to get off a crowded bus the other day, I bumped into a young woman’s suitcase (she was not amused) and caromed off an old man’s back (he didn’t seem to mind the contact).
A Bittersweet Farewell
My last day at the bus stops in Honolulu (before leaving for the mainland) was a lulu. Someone wanted to give me a parade; someone almost rained on my parade.
While I was waiting for my bus to the gym, I scavenged for litter near the bus stop. While doing so, I made quite an impression on one of the biddies on the bus stop bench. She told me that she thoroughly enjoyed watching me pick up so much trash. Then she effusively congratulated me: how wonderful it was that I took the time to gather so much litter. I was a fantastic role model. Everyone should follow my lead: the world would be such a better place. She was on a roll. Moreover, she informed everyone else on the bench that I was an outstanding example of civic virtue. All of the praise that she was heaping on me made me a bit uncomfortable. And I must admit that I was irritated that she had interrupted me in mid-stream. I thanked her for such kind words and then resumed amassing the rest of the debris.
On my way back to my condo, I found another bus stop area filled with rubbish. I noticed a grubby, mean-looking old man sitting on a bench by the bus stop. He seemed harmless enough, so I reached around him to pick up crushed cigarette packs, grimy bags, crumpled plastics, and a few shards of glass. Just as I dumped the stuff into the trash bin, I was taken aback. Liquid was unaccountably spilling out the opposite side of the receptacle. But as I looked up, I realized what was cascading. The gruff man, who had wandered from the bench, was urinating onto and between the slats that housed the trash bin. Luckily, he didn’t decide to splash me as I made my own deposit.
I quickly rushed to the curb at the bus side, regretfully letting the remaining litter fend for itself. I did not want to tangle with the unsavory, unashamed derelict. After relieving himself, he went back to the bench, spewing out nasty verbal volleys at passersby. The bus none too quickly arrived. I got on it; he stayed where he was; I was relieved.
I feel compelled to remove any litter in my path, no matter where I am. Sadly, I never get any help from anyone. In fact, sometimes I envy the prisoners on work detail who methodically bag up litter in my mainland home: rural North Carolina. I am sure that if I ever were incarcerated for a minor offense, I would gladly join the roadside clean-up crew.
Bus Drivers—Hands-on and Hands-off
Yesterday, one of the bus drivers on my route to the fitness center tried to be helpful: it backfired. When a lady in a wheelchair got on the bus, people sitting in the front row reserved for the elderly and the disabled had to move to accommodate her. The bus driver emphatically motioned one of the distracted, displaced passengers, a well-groomed, sedate middle-aged woman, to take a seat across the aisle. She did so, but not for long. Next to her sat a harsh looking and nasty smelling troll-like man, perhaps a distant relative of Rumpelstiltskin. The woman, evidently uncomfortable with her unseemly seatmate, quickly got up and plunged toward the back of the bus. The man was offended. He grimaced, thrust up his hand, and then gave the woman the finger, even though she was out of sight by then. He unceremoniously kept that middle finger upright for a few moments. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he punctuated his outrage by stomping his feet. This unpleasant incident could have been avoided if the bus driver hadn’t told the woman where to sit. He should not have intervened.
On the way back from the fitness center, I witnessed another unpleasant incident instigated by another bus driver. After letting passengers off, the bus driver closed the doors and waited for a long red light to change. At that moment, someone repeatedly banged on the door, hoping that the bus driver would open it up. He ignored the racket. Before the light turned green, a man seated opposite the bus driver twice berated him: “Man, you’re so cold-hearted.” The bus driver didn’t respond. He impassively kept looking straight ahead.
I’m not sure what the protocol is about letting someone on a bus that, after the doors are shut, is lingering in front of a red light. But a couple of times, a bus driver (displaying his aloha spirit) has allowed me to get on in that situation. Other times, I was not so lucky.
Yesterday, one bus driver was overly solicitous. He could have allowed the passenger to sit anywhere. There was no need to specifically direct her to a seat across the aisle. The other bus driver was stone-faced indifferent to the entreaties of a would-be passenger. There was plenty of room in the bus; no one would have been inconvenienced. And with at least a minute left for the red light to change, the bus would not have been delayed.
During my numerous bus-riding outings, I have seen similar contrasts. Some bus drivers are gracious and gregarious; others snarl and are aloof. And so it goes.
A Plus Cancels out Two Minuses
Until yesterday, I had never witnessed any hate speech while living half-time in Waikiki for over a decade. On the bus, I happened to be seated behind two middle-aged passengers: a bedraggled, spastic man and a matronly Asian woman. At first, the derelict was malevolently mumbling to no one in particular. But soon he faced the woman and spat out these words: “Jesus…**bleep**…get away from me, you **bleep** Japanese.” With incredible presence of mind, the woman calmly walked to the front of the bus right behind the bus driver. She didn’t speak to anyone. I was so close to the nasty man that I felt like slapping him on the head. But I refrained. In the meantime, he incoherently cursed the woman, who still ignored him. A young ethnically-diverse man standing nearby cautioned the man to stop bothering the lady. There was no more verbal abuse after that. At least someone had the courage to intervene. Later, as the crude man started hobbling off the bus, he looked menacingly at the Asian woman but left her alone. Even if the man was haplessly homeless or if he had a touch of Tourette’s syndrome, what he said with so much vehemence and venom was inexcusable.
After witnessing that unsettling incident, I found myself in the midst of another one. As I got off the bus, I saw three well-groomed Asian young men ahead of me. Suddenly, a ghoulish woman going in the other direction turned toward them and hatefully uttered: “You Korean scum—go back to North Korea.” Then she whisked away. The guys were more amused than offended. They said that they weren’t even Korean, never mind North Korean. But I was doubly disturbed yesterday. What is happening to the Aloha spirit? How tainted is it becoming?
Well, I got out of my funk today. On the bus, a twenty-something attractive, dark-skinned man with abundant dreadlocks sat opposite me, gently stroking his well-behaved German shepherd. Next to me was a pleasant middle-aged Asian woman. Suddenly, the man stared at her. O no, I feared that I was going to be a spectator at another hate-filled volley against Asians. But I was soon relieved. The man began to compliment her. He appreciated the fact that she was the only person on the bus who smiled at him. Delighted that he noticed her good-nature, she schmoozed a bit with him about their respective careers. Within a few minutes, she sat next to him. She then asked if she could pet his dog. He graciously said of course. They chatted some more. Such bonhomie, such welcome Aloha after the hateful prejudice that I witnessed yesterday!
Missing a Bus can be a Blast
Initially, I was irritated that I had to wait about 20 minutes to take a bus back to Waikiki after my workout at the fitness center. But I soon was so engagingly entertained that the time went by pretty fast. One of the middle-aged women perched on the bus stop bench wore a furry red dress with a wavy tin-foil wrap-around shawl and a neon-tinted tin-foil hat. Perhaps she was trying to ward off government conspiracies or paranormal threats.
When I stopped gawking at her, I turned around. I saw a young lady wearing a wooly thickly striped tiger outfit, including a bulky sports bra, baggy pants and oversized shoes. But the oddest accoutrement was a massive turquoise braided wig that zigzagged as she cavorted across the street. Perhaps she thought that the upcoming Honolulu Marathon was really Halloween.
Not to be undone, a macabre ski-masked motorcyclist abruptly stopped at a red light. Although the back of his or her balaclava was traditionally black, the front had ominous white smears outlining the mouth and eyes. Perhaps that freaky mask is a misguided homage to Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman or Jim Carrey in The Mask. On top of the ski mask, the rider wore an iron helmet that resembled the ones used by the anti-heroes in the TV series The Sons of Anarchy.
A little later, a man in an old sedan pulled up fairly close to me. At first, I thought I glimpsed on the dash a few bobble-headed hula dance figurines so commonly associated with Hawaii. But before the car lurched away, I got a better view: I was taken aback to see an array of meticulously crafted figurines that represented a wide range of personas, from aristocrats to beggars. Go figure!
After the bus finally came, I got on board, never thinking that the entertainment would continue. The matter-of-fact, pre-recorded message system had malfunctioned. So the driver himself, with a well-tuned mic, comic asides, and dramatic flair, announced the intersections and the major attractions at each bus stop: including happy hours, gourmet food tidbits, and hotel show extravaganzas. He was a consummate emcee, a man for all bus routes.
BUS STOP ODDITIES
BUS STOP ODDITIES
Walking toward the bus stop this morning, I saw a tall scraggly bearded man hunching over a smaller person who could have been male or female. It was hard to tell: he or she was swaddled in a full-length, multi-colored, semi-transparent piece of cloth that resembled a long sarong. Close by, I noticed a young man ostentatiously grooming his gaudy baby-blue dyed hair as he ever-so-slowly descended a stairway to the street. Two histrionic hoots!
When I got on the bus, a burly young man with a bulging sports bag was trying to be courteous to anyone who sat beside him. So he moved to the far edge of his seat and made sure that the bag was directly under his feet. But then, he firmly put one leg over the other, partially blocking anyone who would want to sit beside him. Go figure!
But the sliver of space left next to him could have easily accommodated the shriveled homeless person I then noticed positioned across the street from the convention center bus stop. She was muttering to herself and carelessly holding on to a paper shopping bag frayed so much at the bottom that whatever was in it could have momentarily slid out. She just stood there as if transfixed to the spot, oblivious to her surroundings, perhaps even unaware of her humanity and her mortality. What a bleak portrait of a lady.
As I entered the fitness center, two people on elliptical machines got my attention: one of them was a blob; the other one was a blur. An overweight man seemed to be in suspended animation. He waited about a minute before sluggishly moving his feet for one rotation, and then he again paused for another minute before continuing in the same manner. Perhaps he had defective motor skills or perhaps he was so distracted that he became almost immobilized. On the other hand, a super-thin woman on a machine a few rows from him ferociously and incessantly pedaled. She was going so fast and so much sweat was leaching from her body that I was afraid she’d careen off the machine.
Welcome to Waikiki, a city of instantly contrasting tableaux.
Ever since my wife and I returned to Waikiki three weeks ago, I have daily taken the bus to the newly relocated 24-Hour Fitness Center just outside of Waikiki. Whenever I wait at a bus stop on my way to or from the gym, I enjoy picking up litter and stuffing it in nearby trash receptacles. No one has encouraged or helped me, and that’s okay; and no one has hindered me until yesterday.
I noticed that a grungy giant of a man standing next to the bus sign impassively watched me retrieve and remove a bunch of litter. Eventually, I spied a muddied discarded coffee cup cover on the ground next to him. As I was reaching for the debris, the man turned my way, smirked, stepped on the cover, and kept his foot on the squashed remains until the bus came. What a jerk! I guess it bugged him that I was so conscientious in getting rid of litter.
We both got on the bus. He went to the back; I, successfully controlling my outrage, stayed in front. And the coffee cover remained where it was. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was still there when I return to the bus stop tomorrow. If so, its reprieve will be short-lived—unless Bigfoot is also there at the same time. If that were the case, I would certainly regret getting rid of the makeshift slingshot I had found during one of my litter roundups last year.
After a boring half hour wait for my unaccountably delayed bus ride to the gym, I was regaled with a crude skit worthy of Saturday Night Live. I heard a haggard, pale, spaced-out woman shrieking obscenities to her male companion. Both of them were sitting on a bench for oncoming passengers; I was close by on the sidewalk, close enough to sneak a few discrete peeks and decipher a few choice bits of her decibel-quaking diatribe: Her vacation, as always, was an effing disaster; her new hairdo was an effing farce; her cellphone (sounded like cellophane) was effing worthless, as was her cigarette lighter; and nobody, including her brother, could fix her effing situation. Her amazingly calm male companion tried to placate the venomous harpy, and after a few minutes, he succeeded.
In between his gentle admonitions, he lit her cigarette and promptly lit a cigar for himself. Because I couldn’t abide the sickening smoke, I had to move further away from the almost reconciled couple.
At that point, an elderly Hawaiian man whispered to me that he was so disgusted with the woman’s abusive language that he decided to walk to another bus stop. I commiserated with him, but I stayed for the show, just in case the hag’s temper would reignite.
I didn’t get much of a chance. Just then, the bus came, but the couple quietly left the bench and went in the opposite direction. The drama was over.
On the way back from the gym, I saw a somber dark-skinned bearded man hovering beside the bus sign. He was cradling himself, softly speaking to himself. I speculated that he could have been a homeless person mumbling incoherently or a guru chanting incantations. Neither I or anyone else waiting for the bus got too close to him, perhaps out of respect or fear—I had a little of each.
When the bus came, the man went to the back; I found a seat upfront. I began to read my book uneventfully. But soon I heard a deep bellowing inhuman roar far behind me. It only lasted a moment or two. Nonetheless, it was freaky, not just for me but also for the other passengers around me. Figuring the unsettling noise was a fluke, I continued to read. Once more, however, the same fierce growl erupted from the back. I tentatively turned around. What I saw unnerved me. That same man that I observed at the bus sign was standing all alone was no longer subdued. He had transformed himself. His chest maniacally heaved and his red eyes bulged. He must have been the source of the uproar.
I thought about getting off at the next stop, even though it was almost midnight, but I felt relatively safe enough at the front of the bus, as long as the unhinged man stayed where he was.
From that point until I exited at a street close to my condo building, I was relieved to hear no more startling noises from the back of the bus. In fact, just as I left the bus, I saw that the overwrought man was asleep. Whew!
There was enough melodrama last night at two bus stops and on one bus to last, I hope, for a while. I like being a fly on the wall, but I don’t ever want to be swatted.
Split Personalities: Yesterday on the bus, I was fascinated by two passengers. First, a bulky young woman sat next to me on the bus. Initially, she looked grimly self-composed. But soon after she got situated, without any introduction and remaining still, she began to laugh riotously. Then just as suddenly, she stopped. But not for long: other intermittent rounds of hearty laughter erupted, followed by complete stone-faced silences. It was as if she would periodically flip a switch—up for merry, down for mute. After she left, a skinny disheveled man entered the bus with his own set of alternating antics. He balanced a ratty oversized backpack on his head while he zigzagged to the back door, at which time he plunked down his load and sat on it for a moment. Then he started to tremble and abruptly bob about on a pole next to the back exit. And in the process, he belched out snippets of gibberish. He continued this shtick for a few minutes. Then, without warning, he sidled over to the other side of the bus, grabbed onto his backpack, and was absolutely still for the remainder of the bus ride. Characters wanted: positions filled. Even though I was entertained by these two outlandish passengers, I was also sadly aware that they might well be as neurologically damaged as the tattered woman who, after sprawling beside my favorite bus stop, incessantly scratches her scabby head.
A Wrong Turn
Yesterday, I had a bit of an adventure that I feared would bite me in the butt. After working out at the gym, I was in a hurry to get home for a concert; so I jaywalked to the nearest bus stop, one that I usually avoid because assorted unsavory characters hang out there.
When I reached the bus stop area, it was relatively empty, except for heaps of litter and a forlorn homeless man who hovered next to his bulging makeshift tent located on the corner. Soon a scrawny middle-aged street person materialized as I was grappling with the trash. Slurring her words, she asked if I had seen one of her female friends. When I told her that I hadn’t, she buddied up with the homeless guy. I was glad not to have to deal with her anymore because she reminded me of the drunken hag who years ago had enlisted me to babysit for her raggedy brood. Relieved, I resumed my clean-up while on the lookout for the bus that was supposed to have arrived a few minutes earlier.
Then I heard some murmuring behind me. I turned around. Two scruffy young men in black hoodies approached me. One of them didn’t say anything; he just maniacally grinned. The other one seemed perturbed. He strutted up to me and wondered why I hadn’t responded to him when he had earlier asked this question: “What up, Dawg?” A little unnerved, I told him that I wasn’t sure exactly what he had said. Displeased, he lectured me about ignoring him. I involuntarily smiled a lot and apologized for being so clueless. He still felt insulted. Then he smirked and said that most of the time he was a ghetto gangbanger (unless he was with his girlfriend), and I certainly wasn’t his girlfriend. I said that I understood his position. Seemingly placated, he again asked me “Whatup, Dawg.” I stammered something about having a good time picking up litter. He just frowned, his sidekick snickered, and I got real edgy.
Suddenly, they walked a few feet away and conferred. I ever so cautiously walked closer to the bus sign. Luckily, I was able to keep my distance from both of them: the sleazy street person left the homeless guy to carouse with the gangster wannabees. I shifted my position so that part of the bus kiosk shielded me from all of these unwelcome intruders. I figured that none of them were waiting for the bus, so if it came soon, I would be able to escape unscathed.
After a while, still with no bus in sight, I rushed further down the road to another bus stop. At that point, the bus arrived. After I sat down in the front row, I happened to look towards the back of the bus. Whoa! The same two guys who had messed with me before were standing there now; and both of them looked pretty smug.
Although they didn’t come closer to me, I hoped that they would not follow me when I got off the bus. It turned out that my stop was their stop too. Not wanting any more confrontations, I nonchalantly took a circuitous route to my condo, never looking back to see if I was being pursued.
When I safely entered my condo unit, I wondered if I was just being paranoid. But my gut told me that the hooded young men maliciously enjoyed toying with me, displaying their bravado at my expense.
Maybe I would have been less intimidated, less bugged, if the alpha male had asked: “What’s up, Doc?”
A Glorious Moment
Normally while I wait at a bus stop, I religiously pick up and dispose of litter: my eyes are so fastened to the ground (so fertile with trash) that I rarely have time to do anything else. But the other day just before the bus came, I happened to look up: what I saw, and what I had routinely ignored in the past, astounded me. Massive gloriously lush fern-like monkey-pod trees embraced both sides of Kapiolani Boulevard for as far as I could see. What a revelation!
I will still hunt for litter at bus stops, but I will also take time to marvel at the soul-soaring magnificence around me—and next to me, whenever my wife accompanies me.
Two Squatters on the Opposite End of the Spectrum
After exercising, I normally wait for Bus 13 at an elegant bus stop a block from the 24-hour fitness center in Honolulu. But the other day, after just missing the bus, I walked to a much less genteel bus stop that took an alternate route to Waikiki. When I got there, a very fit middle-aged man stood at the curb. Soon, he started a flurry of squats. Each time that he bent his knees, he clasped his hands together as if he were praying. Each time that he rose up, he put his hands down the front of his athletic shorts to seemingly adjust his unwieldy genitals: an incongruous juxtaposition of poses.
No one else was at the bus stop except for a stationary homeless person sprawled out on the bus bench and almost completely covered up with a tarnished tarp—except for a slight hole facing the man who had caught my attention, a hole that might have afforded the homeless man a glimpse of the guy who was perhaps getting ready to audition as a street performance artist.
After a while, when the bus had not yet arrived, the man doing the squats crossed an intersection to get on another bus stop. There he renewed his entertaining regimen until Bus 13 arrived. At that moment, Bus 2 finally came; I got on it, while the homeless man, slightly stirring, remained in his make-shift shelter where at least for a while he had squatter’s rights.
I’m glad that I had not taken Bus 13 at my usual spot. If I had, I would not have seen the antics of the man who got on the next stop; observing wonderfully weird, odd-ball characters on parade is always a treat.
Trash and Trash Talk
Yesterday, on my way to the gym, I had a close encounter at a bus stop and on the bus. After I placed a bit of litter in one of the trash cans at the bus stop, I noticed a disheveled woman sitting on a nearby bench. As I moved away from her, she malevolently stared at me and uttered a barrage of curses beginning the f word and ending with **bleep**, hale (a pejorative Hawaiian epithet for a white person), and **bleep**. Enraged, she then dumped out most of the stuff in the trash can. Not wanting to confront her, I huddled with a group of sympathetic women at the far end of the bus stop.
But the maddened and mentally disturbed hag wasn’t done. Lurching to within an inch of me, she shrieked “I’m gonna slice you up.” Instead of ignoring her, I shrieked back, “Get away from me.” Luckily, she retreated, all the while unleashing gobs of foul language and threatening to call the police.
Unnerved—what if she did have a weapon?—I decided to get further away from her: I walked to the next bus stop. But when I got on the crowded bus, I was stunned to see my hideous nemesis stewing in the front row. Just as she saw me, she once more venomously spat out her litany of curses. I hurried to the back of the bus. A moment later, she followed me, but there were so many passengers between us that she couldn’t directly accost me. Nonetheless, she continued to swear and once again call out for the police. When some of the passengers cautioned her to quiet down, she began cursing them as well. I was dismayed and distraught. But soon my ordeal was over.
Two stops later, everyone had to evacuate the bus; the offensive woman, however, remained seated. I presumed that the police were notified, although I didn’t see them. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what happened; I decided to walk the rest of the way to the gym. As I began to leave the scene, I saw the other passengers cautiously reenter the bus. Still a tad traumatized, I was not going to be among them.
This appalling incident has not deterred me from disposing of litter wherever I walk. But there is a caveat. If I see trash close to a sketchy derelict, I will leave it alone. That person just might be gunning for me if I make a move. My new motto is Have Discretion, will Travel.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A couple of days ago, as I got on a crowded bus, I lost my balance and gently landed in the lap of a fairly young hard-bitten, grim woman seated in the front row reserved for the elderly and the disabled. I quickly disengaged myself and apologized to her. She just glared at me with a look that would have unnerved a stone-cold killer. After I got my bearings, I stood next to a man who maniacally smiled at me as if he delighted in my pratfall.
One stop later, some people got off the bus, allowing the man to sit down a few rows from the woman whom I had stumbled into and who had just put a large bag on an empty seat next to her. Without warning, the man repeatedly screamed at her to remove her bag so that one of the nearby standing passengers could take that seat. At first, the woman ignored his menacing rants. But she soon indignantly launched a few verbal fusillades at him: The gist of her counterattack was that she was disabled and was saving a place for her equally disabled friend who was going to join her at the next stop. She was so outraged that she even whipped out her bus pass that signified that she was indeed disabled. Then she shouted that her friend had a similar designation.
The man was unmoved. Snarling “Get rid of that bag,” he tried to browbeat her into letting a young lady standing in front of her take the seat that the disabled woman was hogging for her comrade. Flustered, the young lady stayed put, not wanting to be a part of this increasingly volatile situation.
The riveting exchange of invective continued until the disabled friend entered the bus. Instead of sitting next to one other and enduring the wrath of their loud-mouthed nemesis, they both decided to stand as close to the bus driver as possible. Their ploy worked. There were no more outbursts from any of the antagonists; and the tension in the bus subsided. Within a minute, the spooked young women departed. The man immediately got quiet and left at the next stop, perhaps savoring the moment when he would have the chance to torment someone else.
I am thankful that there weren’t any physical assaults. The verbal lashings were sufficient. But what disturbed me the most was that the bus driver ignored the whole potentially violent incident, and not one of the passengers (including me) complained to him about the verbal fracas. The bus rules state that passengers should report to the bus driver if they witness anything disruptive. If someone had complained, would the bus driver have cautioned the combatants or would he have continued to do nothing about an incident that so blatantly violated bus etiquette?
I bet he would have intervened, however, if the unappealing lady with the bag had looked like Marilyn Monroe in the movie Bus Stop.
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