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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shoe Shine Man And Other Stories

I knew there was a full moon coming just by the bus.

Three weeks into commuting and not much had happened.

Sure there was your average bus fare: a drunk guy here, a homeless woman there, wayward teens whittling away their time as best they know how. And there was the simple fact that I was the lone white guy ninety nine percent of the time.

I'm sure some of them think I'm a narc.

But for the most part, it was basically about people getting on, and people getting on the bus with as little interaction as possible.

A few days ago that all changed.

I had caught the 5:30 downtown and boarded the bus to go home. I noticed two white guys in suits and recognized them as the Mormons I saw a few days earlier when it occurred to me after I saw them that I don't see white people riding the bus.

The bus seemed unusually crowded with a handful of folks grabbing the overhead.

And that's when I heard someone yelling out from the back.

"ShhhhuuuuShhhhinnnnnee!" he said. It almost sounded like a yodel.

Just then an older man, one with grey hair and cane, took off his hat and squinted his eyes toward the back of the bus.

""ShhhhuuuuShhhhinnnnnee!" said someone again from the back.

"I hear you but I can't see you!" said Shoe Shine Man.

I caught a reflection in the window behind me of the Caller and the person next to him in conversation but it was inaudible.

The Mormons began to chant a psalm or hum of hymn or whatever reading from prayer books in sing songy unison is called these days. Maybe I have finally put my ingrained Catholicism aside by now because I can't remember.

Shoe Shine looked at them and said something to the Caller; his mouth was nothing but gums.

The Caller called back, "They on a mission ShuShine!"

"So am I!" said Shoe Shine punctuating it with a "ha ha."

"To find the Holy Ghost!" he said

"Yeah, Holy Ghost..." said the Caller.

"Or maybe some wine," said Shoe Shine with a laugh.

That was weird I thought.

And then I recalled how when I was waiting for the bus at the depot I could see in the outside window of the information center.

I saw a woman looking at lingerie on her computer.


The other day a fight broke out at the depot. It started off like most altercations with people calling each other names in an increasingly louder cadence until it was clear there was going to be some "commotion." I came to the assumption that two teenage [??] boys had tried to lift something out of another guy's backpack and he called them out on it. Then the threesome sat in the middle of the road mouthing off to each other but it seemed like things we far from getting heated. I wasn't close enough to hear nor did I want to be.

A cluster of two others joined me as spectators.

The older guy said he'd kicked both their asses but one at a time, that two on one is cowardly. Then he came at them hard in the middle of the street, stomping and puffed up like a peacock: " You niggers are a bunch of bitches!!"

Then he said something about guns not making you a man and how fucked up the kids today are because they can't even step up and fight.

The kids then back off and walk away.

"He's ri-aight, tho he's ri-aight," said a fellow standing next to me.

"Dressin' like a gang banger don't make you a gang banger," he explained.