Monday, July 12, 2010

Invisible Girlfriends

Today I took a bus to Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood to meet with two wonderful kids that I tutor. I really like taking that bus because of the fascinating mix of people who ride it: Tiny elderly people in sunhats speaking Vietnamese and Cantonese. Somalian women with long pretty headscarves. Central American and Mexican men carrying heavy suitcases or grocery bags. And a diverse handful of Americans. Today, the bus was especially crowded. I sat in a spot at the very back, in a tiny open space between two men with large bellies. The man on my left wore thick glasses and had an intense, psychopathic stare, which was thankfully aimed at no one in particular. The man on my right had his arm draped across the back of my seat. As soon as I sat down, he looked at me and said (in a strange high-pitched voice), “Well! My girlfriend’s sitting next to me!” Oh dear. I should have just stood in the aisle. “Is your girlfriend invisible?” I asked. “Did I squash her when I sat down?” He chuckled obnoxiously, and I stared at my lap, vowing to ignore him. He looked at my laptop case. “You’ve got a laptop, huh?” he asked. “Yup,” said I. “Is that the best kind?” he asked. “I have no idea,” I said. “My HUSBAND bought it for me.” “Ooooooh,” said the man.

Fortunately, he got off at the next stop. As he left, he said, “Well, Oddy, time to go.” Oddy? Am I Oddy? Then he waved at me, and what he said next seemed to be, “Bye, Naughty!” Naughty? Oddy? This man had a very strange voice. It was hard to tell. When he left, I scooted over, away from the guy with the stare, thinking, “Oh, how I love the public bus system!” And really, I do. My life would be so much less entertaining without it.


  1. I love public transportation, too. When I first moved to San Francisco it was how I really got to know the City, in all its chaotic nastiness. But sometimes, when I wanted to avoid the crazy people like Invisible-Girlfriend-Man I played catatonic/mentally disabled. Slump to the side, roll your eyes over and cross them slightly, and let your mouth hang open, relaxing your tongue outward. The trick is to really drool. And the trick of the trick is to not react when your drool falls on you. Keep staring. Keep drooling. You'll notice people starting to move away from you like you're emitting a toxic smell. Works every time.

  2. "I should have just stood in the aisle."

    Exactly my sentiment for most bus rides.

  3. Community Transit spent a ton of money on these fancy Swift busses, and now they don't have enough money to keep them running on Sundays. Compared to downtown busses, CT's are dull, but I prefer it that way. I miss my bike.