Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nut Bus

It's sometimes difficult to arrive at work in the morning in a good mood. Even if I wake up feeling refreshed and somewhat happy, the trip to work every morning on the #36 Broadway bus runs the risk of being a joysuck. This morning was one of those mornings.

At first I thought my day was starting off well. I walked to the corner bus stop to find the bus actually approaching. This is indeed rare. After boarding the bus, I found it practically empty which meant I would get a single seat instead of having to share a double seat. Being built like I am and having shoulders that are a bit wider than most, sharing a double seat can sometimes get . . . uncomfortable. Especially when my seatmate decides to actually sit on me. But I digress.

So for a few brief seconds, I am sitting in my single seat and thinking that today would actually start out well. And then it all begins:

I hear a woman talking somewhat loudly on her phone. As I turn to give her the "keep your voice down" eye, I realize that she is not on her phone, nor is she talking to another person. I've seen her before on this bus but never this early in the morning. She sounds articulate, and she speaks like she is actually having a conversation. But unless she is speaking to a giant, invisible rabbit named Harvey, she's spouting her theories to no one in particular. Her rants are peppered with terms like "black power", "second class citizens", "african chains", "Jesse Jackson", and "bitch". And she never shuts up. She has every right to ride the bus, I guess. Just not the bus I am on.

As soon as I accept what this ride will be like, the bus pulls over to allow an older woman, walking while pushing an empty wheelchair, onto the bus. This means the extension of the ramp, loading her on, raising seats to accomodate her - which is all fine. But as soon as she boards the bus, she starts commanding the bus driver to not pull out until her wheelchair, which is actually loaded down with bags, is locked in. One warning? Understandable. Two warnings? Maybe. A 4-minute harangue while she shuffles into place all the while yelling at the driver to not pull out until her wheelchair is locked in? Priceless. And unnecessary.

She finally sits. "Black power" is still sputing out her views on what it is to be her. The bus travels a few more stops, then on boards the freshmen Spanish class of Lincoln High School - all 36 of them - and their three advisors. I hated freshmen, even when I was one. It's that awful age between insufferable child and real person (this is where Justin calls me an "anti-juvenite"). So all 36 climb on the bus, each one talking on his/her cell phone to another student who may or may not be in the group (one kid in the back of the group was actually talking on his phone to another kid in the front of the group). Meanwhile, they are sharing their rudimentary bilingual skills as they continue to pack into the bus like "sardinas". One "chica" decided my left shoulder was the perfect place to rest her backpack, until I asked her to move it. I must have forgotten to remove my red clown nose before leaving the house this morning because for some reason she and her "amigas" thought I was hilarious.

Finally, when I figured my blood pressure couldn't take anymore, I opted to get off the bus at West LaSalle and find another way to get to work. Anything - taxi, rikshaw, being dragged by a horse for the 15 blocks - would be better than this. It took me a solid minute to exit the bus because, apparently, bilingual children can't hear. Who knew? After realizing my "pardon me"s were falling on deaf ears, I invoked my unwritten rights and just powered my way through. I think I still have a kid wrapped around my ankle.

Needless to say, the day did not start off well. But it could have been worse. THEY could have been on the bus, too.