In the Bus Bag
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Tag Archives: 3
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 …
Two middle-aged black men are sitting near the front, discussing job prospects. Somewhere near Harborview, one mentions a position he is particularly interested in, which offers, among other perks, union wages and benefits. The other scoffs.
“Let me tell you something: Seattle has black jobs and white jobs. If President Obama went down there and applied, he couldn’t get one of those jobs.”
At the stop near 8th, the driver gets on the mic and says, “Oops. You went too far.” When no one responds, he looks in his rearview mirror and tries again. “Wasn’t one of you looking for Union Gospel Mission?”
After another silence, several of us begin turning in our seats to see who he is talking to. In the process, our eyes scan the man sitting to my right, who has spent most of the short ride talking loudly on his cell about all the money he’s earned this year, and, in particular, this week.
“Don’t look at me,” …
A woman boards at Harborview and immediately announces, “This bus smells like curry and armpits!”
I didn’t smell any curry.
Back when I was a young BCiT, I made my grandma mad by (unintentionally) announcing her age to a full 55. At six, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want people to know how old she was. Even now, I find all the shame and secrecy surrounding the number of years a person has been on the planet to be somewhat difficult to understand.
That was fast.
Two twentysomething guys are keeping the front section entertained with their end-of-the-workday banter.
Twentysomething guy 1: “Kate Moss rides the bus. Not this bus, but a bus.”
TSG 2: “She still in town?”
TSG 1, patting his chest: “Yeah–right here. I’ve got a teeny, tiny Kate living in my heart.”
An off-duty driver is sitting in the front section, chatting with the on-duty driver. Both are apparently part-timers who work out of the same base (Atlantic).
On-duty driver: “I’m finally getting enough hours to cover everything; it was a struggle for a while.”
Off-duty driver: “That’s good. It’s always good when you can meet your bills.”
On-duty driver: “Yeah–for a while there they were calling, talking about they were going to ruin my credit. I said, ‘How are you going to ruin something I don’t even have?’”