Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mass Transit Troubles

   Back when I went to school on campus, something that took hours of my days and reduced the hours available for sleeping an average of four, I spent a lot of times on the buses. One bus in particular, the 174. This was before they changed all the routes and made the bus system a total mess, especially if you need to get into Seattle. Back in those days (not that long ago, really) the 174 still went into Seattle and still worked in the 'free ride' zones, which tended to mean that you would get some pretty crazy people riding.
   One day I was riding home from college (in the days before I owned my eardrum killing Ipod) and I was sitting on the seats that faced sideways instead of towards the front. (I hate these seats because I always feel like I'm fixing to fall, but this bus gets crowded. Not always a choice.) Across from me was a fairly muscular, tall, tattooed guy and an older woman. The woman was obviously not all there, and she was talking to herself pretty loudly, but I didn't catch watch she was saying at first. My policy is to not make eye contact when riding the bus. I've never been directly threatened, but if you meet people's eyes, some of them will talk to you, and I don't want to talk to anybody. Plus, the ones that tend to talk to you often aren't playing with a full deck. I know that this sounds bad, but you'll see my meaning in a few minutes.
   While I try to not make eye contact, I do try to stay alert. Zoning out in a public place with a bunch of crazies is like walking into a zombie infested pit with no weapons. You might make it out alive, but the odds are against you. So I noticed when the big tattooed man started scooting away from the woman, making himself as small as possible. Really, tattooed guy? That little, homeless woman was scaring you that badly? Then I started listening to what she was saying.
   First she attacked the Buddhists, because the bus passed some little place that had the word Buddhist on the sign. I can't really remember what she said, except that it was batshit crazy. Then we passed a cell phone store, and shit!!! I caught her eye. Now instead of talking to herself, she was talking to me.
   "Cell phones were brought here by the aliens! They steal your skin, they steal your skin. They're in your skin with the signal." I glanced at the tattooed man, but he was no help. This was obviously deeply traumatizing to him, and he was scrunched into the bus seat as far as he could go. I giggled. I couldn't help it. I know that laughing at that poor man was mean--I was completely judging him by his looks alone. Tall, muscular, tattooed guys are badass, right? Nope. Not this dude: total pussycat. But the woman, she freaked out because I laughed.
   "Laugh!" she exclaimed in disgust," Sure it's funny. Laugh! It's funny if you're the devil's daughter! It's funny if you're the devil's daughter!"
   And she isn't talking now, oh hell no. She's screaming and the whole bus is looking at us and I'm pretty sure that she is calling me the devil's daughter. Oh lordy, I do the only thing that I can do. I join the tattooed guy in his attempt to meld into the seat and become invisible. 

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