Coffee Rhetoric: Bus Tales

December 07, 2006

Bus Tales

Two evenings ago, I was on the Q bus, en route to my mother’s house. A full moon hovered overhead, bright… commanding in its presence. It struck a luminescent pose against the black backdrop, of a prematurely dark late afternoon sky. The bus was packed; quite busy and noisy. The conversations I heard around me, sounded like a cacophonous mash-up mixed by an inexperienced club DJ. Loud cell phone conversations and even more annoying, a screaming and petulant child at the back of the bus; whose pitch knew no bounds. Rather than console the child, madre insisted on yelling in an even shriller voice, “Callate! Callate!” contributing to the noise pollution. The child's screams became even more blood curdling, surrounding the entire bus with an unrelenting assault!Grinding my teeth, my eyes fluttering, because I was thinking “REDRUM, REDRUM” I looked up at a sign above my head that read: VIOLENCE ON THE CT TRANSIT BUS IS A FEDERAL CRIME. I read that sign a couple of times. It soothed my soul in a way I cannot describe.

More interesting was the conversation I heard between two female passengers, sitting at my immediate left. They both popped and snapped their gum at a feverish pace, in-between anecdotes, making juicy sounds with their mouths. They were sitting too close, so I didn’t dare turn to look. So close in fact, I caught wafts of bubble gum air. The unwritten laws of public transportation dictates that everyone should stare straight ahead and mind his/her own business, don’t make eye contact, and don’t sit too-too close for comfort. Anyway, the conversation went as follows.

Braggartly woman 1: “… Yeah, my mother is giving me a nice purse, and my brother is taking me on a $200.00 shopping spree at an outlet mall.”

My thoughts: “Um, sweety, 200 dollars does not a spree make.”

Braggartly: “Yeah, and my mother is buying me this purse and giving me a $100 dollars, from Wal-mart.”

My thoughts: “Yeah, as if there’s a purse being sold at Wal-mart, for that much…”

At this point, I checked out of the conversation. In fact, I checked out of all the goings-on around me, desperately willing the driver to go faster, so I can get off and onto my destination, but then Braggartly and her seat mate engaged in some interesting fodder, piquing my interest.

Braggartly’s seat mate: “… yeah, she controls everything. She had a monopoly on the TV, telling us when we can and can’t watch it. Who does she think she is??”

Braggartly: “She and I had some words, because she tried to tell me that I needed to take my medicine! I haven’t been taking my medicine for a while, and I feel fine! I mean, sure I have mood swings, but no more or no less than anybody else! Only I know how I feel, and nobody else can tell me how I feel! I don’t have to take my medicine if I don’t want to!”

My thoughts: “Lady, dear darklord, take your medicine!”

I simply had to turn and see this woman! But I couldn’t bring myself to do so… not to mention she was un-medicated, and probably close to the edge. Finally she and her seat mate got off in front of a mental health facility. I could hear Celie's voice from the movie The Color Purple narrating, "Her eyes, I gotta see her eyes!" so I seized the opportunity to leer when they got off the bus, but alas, their faces were shrouded with a hat and hood, respectively and pulled down low over their eyes, protected against the cold. I sighed, frustrated. It always amazes me how people with mental health issues, wean themselves off of their anti-psychotics. It’s ‘right scary, really. Essentially, is it their choice, do they have the right to make that decision? I don’t know, but I do know that bus rides for me, are hardly ever boring.

P.S. As I'm relaying this story, a commercial for Cymbalta is playing in the background. Oh the irony!