Monday, September 24, 2007

A Bus Story of Unpleasantry

I took the 8 to Lutherville home this afternoon, following my 2 o'clock class, to rush to my computer and finish my homework. As the bus lumbered up York Road toward Towson Town Center, the fire extinguisher slid from behind the bus driver's seat, landing on an elderly woman's foot and rolling toward the doors as the bus slowed to a stop.
The woman's mouth opened in anguish as she began to silently howl in pain. The bus driver scolded her for not picking up the extinguisher, and as it rolled toward her, motivated from the lurching bus, she bent over. Unable to scoop the extinguisher in her arms, she reported that it was too heavy, and the bus driver sighed. She quietly told him that it fell on her foot and she thought she was hurt, but he ignored her.
I was sitting next to a woman the same age, who also wielded a cane. Under her breath she muttered, "PICK THE DAMNED THING UP." Her aggressive stance made me nervous; when her stop approached I launched myself into an entirely new row of seats instead of taking her window seat when she left.
The next passenger to get on was an adult in his 30s; he spent the next ten minutes propping the extinguisher in various ways that would encourage the object to stay put. Among the twenty or so passengers, he was the only one who believed her. It was if we were the only ones who noticed her clear plastic bag labeled PATIENT BELONGINGS in one hand and the large wooden cane in the other. He stood near her when he completed the valiant task, making small talk and wishing her well until he reached his stop, at which point he exited the bus and disappeared.
That was the moment I catapulted forward, making my best attempt at landing gracefully in the seat, crossing my legs, and burying my interests into last week's Rolling Stone. (I think Kanye and 50 Cent are behaving a little immaturely.)
My former seat mate exited through the front, lightly swatting me with her cane as she left. An elderly man entered after her exit, and began to talk to me from across the aisle in a volley of slurred noises and grunt. He gestured with his mouth wildly, all the while leering at me. When I finally reached my stop, he waved goodbye emphatically.
It's always good to know that the weak and elderly don't stand a chance.

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