75 southbound, 7:15 p.m., Monday. Teens running the bus, menacing an older gentlemen with speculation as to how he smells and shouting crude suggestions as to how he might smell better. Gentlemen paying no attention to him. Driver one of your drivers of least resistance; “Get me home tonight,” he looks to be thinking. “Whatever you do do not engage with the passengers. Let them do what they do.” So its general chaos, forgot the headphones. Teen gets on and somewhat understandably, maybe slightly justifiably feels free to engage in a thirty minute phone convote about others’ sex lives and general scandalousness. She seems mean-spirited and angry. Approaching after the thirty minutes with my very best gentle man’s body language, averted look, and smile was going to no good, I pretty much knew that. I ask quiet and nice and she is seeing a largish, uninteresting man of authority-age asking her stop doing what she is enjoying in her way. She tells me to fuck off. Don’t quite remember what I said at first but it involved something like “so you don’t give a fuck about disturbing the whole bus?” and her answer was roughly “I’m not so fuck off.” And, pretty amazingly I’d say, I addressed the back of the bus and said “Well, lets put it to a vote. Who would like her to shut the fuck up?!” I like into the eyes of about seven other passengers variously retreating into themselves, smiling, smirking, averting from the nutso-angry dude above them and not a one of them says anything. “Anyone,” I say. “A show of hands! Who wants her to shut the fuck up?!” Not a single person raises a hand. “Who doesn’t want her to shut the fuck up?!” No hands. Now, see, I’m a fortunate person in that I usually really enjoy taking the bus. I’m lucky and privileged enough to allow myself the pretense of looking at ridership as something more than just a means to an end. I respect the Hell out of those who just view it as a means to an end. I prone enough to lionize them, even glorify them because I think (and always will) that sharing a ride with your fellow citizens is a pretty damn cool thing. A rare moment of solidarity. These feelings are unshaken. But when you don’t get a peep out of these citizens you feel pretty damn isolated for a moment. Pretty childishly, not expecting any redress or action, I storm to the driver and ask him what he thinks of all this and he looks at me quizzically and we fail to communicate because he does not have much English. If anything I am scaring the guy a bit and see I should extricate so that he can concentrate on driving safely. Back at my seat I text the wife to cool out a bit and get to smiling at myself, my ridiculousness. When Loud Phone Talker exits she sarcasm-drawl-shouts in my ear “You have a good day, Sirrrrr.” Yeah. The acidic ‘sir’ usage. Pfew, not a golden moment for many involved parties.

© Scott Tienken

About Scott Tienken

Scott Tienken is co-editor of The Cartophile Imprint, a publishing/music/and public arts website. His current novel, Mass Transportation, the second installment of his Portland Trilogy, takes place on the northbound 75 busline to St. Johns. He is founding member of the Pine Needles music collective. He is a certified city and public art project geek, works for the county library, and is looking for a chess partner. (Scott Tienken owns the copyright on all his contributions, please contact him for permission to republish).
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