I padded up the block a few steps and looked back, making sure that I had parked my body under the correct bus stop sign. My choice was confirmed when two lumpy elfin women speaking Spanish stood apart from me under the same sign. This was the first time I had taken the bus in years.
The last time I had found myself at the mercy of L.A.’s transit system was eight years ago, when my gigantic blue minivan (R.I.P., Big Blue!) decided to end its life in my very own driveway. Transmissions don’t come cheap. So, Big Blue’s body was sold to a scavenger who gave me $3,000 – about a third of what I’d paid for it only a year before, but enough to pay for a new ride in full. This time it was a motorcycle – and blue again! – a 2009 Honda Rebel, 250 cc engine. Little Blue.
Well, unfortunately, Little Blue’s charms captured someone else’s attention. They carted her away – again from my driveway – in the middle of the night, leaving her money-strapped owner with nothing. Determined not to feel sorry for myself, and after dealing with the logistics and bureaucracy of thievery, I braved the bus. I smiled at the tall female driver with the linebacker’s physique and chirped a good-morning. The driver looked at me and did her best impression of a doorknob. Slightly deflated, I found my seat and tried not to cringe at my grimy surroundings.
Several stops later, a lean, pocket-sized senior citizen wearing several outfits at once stood at the back of the line and waited to board. She had with her a little wheeled shopping basket filled with nonsense. This cart aroused and vexed the Doorknob driver lady, sending her into cop mode.
“I cain’t let you on dis bus til you fowd up that shopping cart!”
Doorknob shouted this several times while the other boarding passengers avoided eye contact, shuffling up the steps like a line of ants on a windowsill. Confused but cheerful, the old lady lifted her rebelliously unfolded cart onto the bus and wobbled to her seat at the front. In response, Doorknob exercised the full extent of her pseudo-powers by refusing to drive the bus until the deviant cart had assumed its proper shape. Several passengers came to the old lady’s aid. First, they emptied all the clutter and miscellaneous objects from the sad little cart, then muscled it into submission. Since that wasn’t good enough for Doorknob, a kind middle-aged woman with reddish-brown store-bought hair and big glasses offered up her seat, so that the newly flattened cart would have a place to ride.
Satisfied that her minions had obeyed, Doorknob continued our joyless ride. Flustered and perplexed, the old woman confided in gibberish to the passenger next to her. The kindly bear of a man nodded at her in sympathy. Feeling no guilt whatsoever, Doorknob smacked at her itchy hair-weave with her right hand and rolled her eyes at no one in particular.
After an eternity, which turned out to be 30 minutes, the old lady and I had the same stop. I sprung to the back door, wanting to claw at it for release. The poor old lady prepared herself for exit with the help of her new temporary bus-friends. Doorknob, in one last demonstration of her satanic powers, tapped at the breaks causing the old lady to stumble.
Finally emerging into the sun, Old Lady went left, and I went right. But right before we separated, I glimpsed her pink knit hat. It said “Thug Life.”
And that is the story of my first bus ride after the theft of my motorcycle.
Happy Memorial Day!
Peace and Love,