Before me boarded a young, African American man, about 20 years old. He was digging through his pockets and my pass was out and so the driver waved me by him. I noticed his boots and outfit – he was either an artist with money or someone with an incredible eye for the right Salvation Army look. The boots were either the thrift store find of the century or a pair of 800 dollar Old Gringos.
We waited. “Could someone help me out with 75 cents more?” Everyone sat there. I gave him another minute and passed a dollar up to the front of the bus. “Thank you! Was that from you?” The man shook his head, no. “You?” A woman said no and pointed back to me. I could have looked around confused but it was all pretty funny and so I smiled and nodded, probably in appreciation for the boots more than anything else.
He then held up his take-out food box and offered me some chili. “No thank you.” “Are you SURE?” He was getting louder. “It’s really good chili. You need to take some of this chili!” I was regretting my decision to help. I told him to enjoy his chili and looked coldly out the window.
He then pulled out a small digital camera and recorded me. “This nice lady just gave me a dollar for the bus AND SHE WON’T EVEN TAKE MY CHILI FOR IT! I OFFERED HER SOME REALLY GOOD CHILI AND SHE WON’T TAKE IT! But my documentary on Portland can go on thanks to her. Here she is again. The lady who paid my fair AND WON’T TAKE MY CHILI!” Man films anti-chili lady for at least 30 seconds while she looks out the window, trying not to laugh.
But I was horrified. While I am the most likely person on any given bus to pay someone else’s fare, I am the least likely person to want a bus full of people staring at me – let alone to want to be in a documentary. Fortunately, the man who brings his bucket on the bus after a day of fishing on the Hawthorne bridge boarded and caught Mr. Boots’ attention. “WHAT’S IN THE BUCKET?” I breathed a sigh of relief.
Story contributed by Mary Mary.