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Valued Social Butterfly
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SNAPSHOTS FROM THE BUS

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Strange Sights at Random Bus Stops

Near a bus stop close to Walmart, a toothless old man, while grasping a small cup, ceaselessly stirred a crusted soupy concoction with a half-extinguished cigar butt. Yuck!

Next to a bus stop at Walgreens, I once saw an extremely thin man wearing a surgical mask, evidently used to ward off incoming germs and/or suspected air pollution. But all of a sudden, the he lifted this mask to take a few puffs of a cigarette that he had hidden behind his back. Go figure!

More than once and at more than one bus stop, I have seen a mumbling hooded man wearing smeared goggles and outfitted in a heavy, frayed, black sweatshirt with matching and equally squalid sweat pants.  Torn black gloves cover his hands down to his knuckles.  Mismatched adhesive strips are splayed on his fingertips. Ratty black sneakers complete his makeshift wardrobe. He is quite a spectacle. He looks a bit menacing, but I have never seem him interact with anyone.

Today, a middle-aged man on a bicycle passed by just as the bus arrived. He may have looked average, but he had an unusually equipped helmet. A small scope was securely fastened to the middle of the top of his helmet; in a pocket at the front of his helmet was a large smart phone. I wondered what kind of receptors lodged within the well-stocked backpack on his shoulders. Perhaps he has an astral connection.

 

Bus Maneuvers

The last time that I had a seat on a standing-room-only bus, I became progressively unnerved. After a crush of people got situated, my wife, who was seated opposite me, gave me a knowing look. Oops, I noticed a young well-endowed young lady standing right in front of me.  Her half-exposed breasts just about jutted into my face.  Petrified, I immediately stared at her feet, and when that got tiring, I scanned other directions, anywhere but straight ahead. When those stratagems strained my neck muscles, I resorted to closing my eyes. At the next stop, a new batch of passengers crowded in. When I opened my eyes, I saw that the young lady had been nudged to the back of the bus. What a relief!

But my wife soon alerted me to another unsettling situation.  She snickered as a scuzzy obese guy stopped in front of me. The guy’s skimpy shirt exposed his bulging splotched belly that resembled rings on a decomposing tree trunk. I shuddered: his stomach was within an inch of my face. I shut my eyes to blot it out.

At the next stop, more people left and others entered. Mercifully, the obnoxious man had gone, and now the person who stood in front of me was nondescript. I was overjoyed that the rest of the bus ride was uneventful.

On a bus, I prefer sitting to standing. I have almost fallen down when a bus forcibly stops and swerves, barrels into potholes, and abruptly bounces because of worn out shock absorbers. Being jarred while I am hanging on to a bus support is physically dangerous.  But being seated on a bus has its psychological pitfalls, as I learned the other day. Of course, if I had taken a book with me, I most likely would not have spied anyone hovering over me. In any case, it’s always an adventure or misadventure riding TheBus on the streets of Honolulu.

 

A TALE OF TWO BUS DRIVERS

Yesterday, after I settled myself at the back of an overcrowded bus, about twenty unassuming Asian tourists arrived, quietly standing up along the front rows. No matter how often the beefy bus driver told the tourists to move along, they remained in place. Outraged, he started to scream at them to move back, but they just looked blankly at him and stayed put. Instead of figuring out why these foreigners were ignoring his command (most likely their English was scanty), he berated them, flung his arms into the air, and then repeatedly pointed his stubby fingers to the back of the bus. Still, the group didn’t obey. They looked bewildered and a bit frightened. Instead of asking someone to translate his outcries and explain his fierce gestures, the bus driver stomped his feet and continued shouting. Finally, the tourists understood; they shuffled to the back of the bus and hovered amongst themselves. In the meantime, the ignorant, frustrated bus driver became more composed, perhaps conserving his energy for another bout with any more uncooperative passengers.  Bereft of sweetness, grace, and compassion, this bus driver (whose bulk and temper remind me of Ralph Cramden of The Honeymooners), is an ideal candidate for anger management and cultural sensitivity programs.

On the other hand, the bus driver whom I observed last week as I sat in the first row was a peacemaker, not a warmonger. For over five minutes, he patiently addressed the routing connections that were distressing an elderly lady. When she entered the bus, she told the driver where she wanted to be let off. He explained that unlike Bus 2, which would have dropped her off at her usual stop, she was now on Bus 2L, a bus with limited stops; and hers wasn’t one of them. Nonetheless, he could take her to a stop pretty close to where she wanted to go—or she could get off 2L and wait for Bus 2.  Unconvinced, the woman argued that bus driver could easily change his route to please her. He calmly replied that it was against protocol to do so. Getting her near her usual bus stop was the best that he could do. Undeterred, the woman pleaded some more; the bus driver again ever-so-kindly told her that he couldn’t make an exception for her. Again, she protested a little louder; again the bus driver courteously stood his ground. He never raised his voice; he was firm but polite. Eventually, the woman, realizing that she couldn’t make the bus driver budge, agreed to get off  close to her usual stop, thus ending their manageable tete-a-tete.

Both incidents in the two different buses took about the same time, but what a difference in perspective. I abhorred the first bus driver’s tirades and marveled at the second bus driver’s civility. If only our current political arena could be modeled not on maniacal ravings but reasoned discourse!

 

Bus Blues

NIS is a multi-faceted acronym that could signify, for example, money (New Israel Shekel), cyber protection (Norton Internet Security), or creativity (National Innovation System).  I’d like to add my own NIS acronym: bus blues (Not in Service).

The bus I use the most, Bus 2, is the closest one that goes to Waikiki from my gym. Sometimes, the bus is delayed, or the weather is so nasty that the bus stop kiosk offers little protection, or I have to suffer second-hand smoke from passersby.  So whenever I see a bus in the distance, presumably Bus 2, I am greatly relieved. But there is a catch. Much too frequently, as the bus approaches, I no longer see the header Waikiki. Instead the dreaded Not in Service designation appears. What a bummer! What a tease! What presumption!

I am one of the many forlorn, exasperated people who hope to get on Bus 2 but instead confront the notorious Not in Service bus barreling past them.

No matter where I am, every time that I come across the acronym NIS, I conjure up monstrous images of this transit nemesis, the nefarious NIS. 

 

 

 

schlomo
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