In the Bus Bag
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, by Shaka Senghor
Category Archives: overheard
A group of young women are passing the long wait for our bus with conversation.
Woman 1: “It’s the body’s attempt at achieving equilibrium. I learned that in psychology.”
Woman 2: “Girl took one psychology class, and now she’s an expert.”
Woman 1: “Two, honey. Two. I failed one and then took it again.”
Moments after the kids and I step off the bus (on our way to the Water Taxi for a summer adventure), a 50-ish Latino man approaches and hands me a business card for his wife’s hair shop, which has recently opened somewhere nearby.
“My wife is black,” he explains, “so she’s specializes in black hair. Braids, barber services…” He stops to look at us more closely, then hesitates. “Also Middle Eastern hair. Erm. All kinds of hair.”
A young black woman with a beautiful, medium length, natural hairstyle exits a building near the stop and walks to it. Two middle-aged white men exit shortly after her and pause to chat on their way down the hill. Seconds into the conversation, one of them says, “[Rachel], your hair is the talk of the office.”
She smiles uncomfortably. “Really? Hopefully, my performance is as well.”
“I liked the way we smoked back in the day, as opposed to now; I liked sneaking it.”
A sixtyish man is sitting in front of me, looking out the window as we creep up James. We pass a handful of people standing on the sidewalk near the jail. Among them is a black priest.
The man snorts in disbelief. “Why would a black person take a vow a poverty? We’re born poor!”
A fiftysomething woman with crutches is sitting in the sideways-facing seat behind the driver, holding her nose while surveying the chaos surrounding her. She catches the eye of the woman across from her, chuckles, shakes her head, and announces to everyone within earshot, “I’ve got a get a car.”
Two young(ish) men pass the nearly deserted stop mid-conversation.
Young man 1: “She’s too tall for me, though. If I was taller, I would get at her.” He pauses while his friend chuckles, then continues. “I swear to God, if I was taller, I’d be in her ear, like, ‘woo, woo, woo!’”
A bus-wide discussion about how hot everyone is (par for the course on any [non-air-conditioned] Seattle bus on any day above 80 degrees) is in full swing before we even reach Harborview. Folks express all the usual (uninteresting) weather-related sentiments, until a middle-aged man sitting directly behind the driver adds his two cents.
“I’m about to go home and get naked. Yep, I’m going to get naked with a little, tiny fan.”
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and Chicklet, Busling, and I are wandering the aisles of the Douglass-Truth children’s section, looking to replenish our summer reading selection.
At a nearby table, a grandmother is reading a picture book, which happens to be one of those reinterpretations of The Wheels on the Bus, to her two-ish grandson. When she gets to, “The driver on the bus says, ‘Move on back!’” Chicklet immediately stops what she is doing.
“That’s not very nice, is it?” she asks, eyeing the grandmother suspiciously. (Don’t sleep on the Chicklet Side Eye.)
I assume that she …
The bus is packed, per usual, so I make my way to the very back and squeeze into one of the sideways seats. After a few minutes of settling in, I break out my current ride read, Hotel Angeline.
The young man in the seat diagonal from mine, who has been holding court since before I boarded, asks, “Is that a good book?”
“It’s interesting,” I reply, and then explain that it was written by 36 different authors, on stage.
“So, what,” he counters, “It’s like the Bible of Broadway or something?”
OK, so …