Saturday, March 23, 2013

On the Bus Blues

Today we had a not-so-unusual early spring snow.  It came down in inches, accumulated, and pretty much ruined everyone's Saturday, including mine as I had to commute in this shit.

Of course, I took the bus-bus-train, another two hour jaunt thanks to a late bus, and will live to drive another day.

But man...

I almost had to go World Star on a couple of clowns at the bus stop.  This is what happened:  My first bus was late, making me miss the second bus, which meant I had to wait around for a half hour. But then the second bus was late, too, making that half hour more like 50 minutes.  Fuck it, it was an hour.  I sat at the bus stop for a fucking hour.

If I had a job where I can call in sick, I would have walked my happy ass back home.  But alas....I do not have that job.

But if you sit at a bus stop for an hour and that bus stop is on Colfax, you will be asked by some low-life (or two) for spare change.  If you are seen smoking a cigarette, you will be asked by some low-life for one.

The first time it happened today, I gave the guy a cigarette.   No, I don't want your only nickel.  In payment for this cigarette, I want you to go away and never talk to me again.  Yeah, I know.  I'm an asshole.  This is not a revelation.  I am at the beginning of a two hour journey to a job I'm not really in love with, not only so that I can afford to buy my own cigarettes, but so that I can buy other things.  You, I don't know what you do, but you walk around in a snowstorm with a nickel in your pocket, asking for cigarettes.

But yes, we can all agree:  I'm the asshole.

The second time, I told the guy I had nothing, even though I had a bag of laundry quarters in my pocket.  I mean, I sympathize.  This guy left the house with no money and no plan.  Me, I'm wearing three shirts, two jackets, gloves.  I brought my iPod, Kindle, and a bag of my laundry quarters just in case. I can see why he's asking me for things.  I was obviously better equipped for this little thing we call life.

A third dude later came up asking for money.  I yanked out my ear bud to hear his plaintive request.  My answer:  "No.  I'm trying to catch a bus, man, not trying to be hit up for shit."  He didn't know he was the third mooch to have offended my hour long bus stop wait, but he recoiled.  "Okay, man, I'm just asking.  You don't have to be a dick."

Well, apparently I do because I can't just sit here on this bench, headphones on, hood closed up around my face, and NOT be bothered by the sad sacks of Denver.  Oh, you thought the sign said "Come ask me for shit?"

No, it says "Don't ask me for shit."

I can't wait till they finish building the train, man.  The bus is a joke.

Updated:  It took me a little over two hours to get home.  I opted to go the long way, since the Colfax bus is the most reliable route in town.  It was a choice between the lesser of two evils:  take a chance on missing the 105, which runs hourly on the weekends, or just ride into downtown and take the 15, which runs every fifteen minutes twenty four hours a day.  I figured I already sat at a bus stop for an hour today, so the 15 it is...

During the ride I had time to think about how much I love my life.  It took about ten seconds and can be measured in the space between your forefinger and thumb when they're touching.

I thought about my misspent youth, misspent because it's gone and now I'm an old man with a mortgage and bills and a job he can barely tolerate.  My trash bill was waiting in my mailbox when I got home.

I thought about the guy with the nickel this morning, thought about how he sensed that he bugged me and later tried to make up for it by offering me room in the bus shelter.  This morning, that was just one more annoyance, but tonight -I dunno- I kind of appreciated it.

Truth is, I wasn't in the bus shelter because I was avoiding all the people in there.  I didn't want to talk to anyone, didn't want to look at anyone, didn't want to acknowledge that other people existed.  I wanted to pretend I was the only person in the world, enduring the miseries of life in solitude. 

This cigarette moocher with the nickel had no idea that he was talking to a guy who is very confused, a guy who doesn't understand that other people can be comforting.  That's what this guy was trying to do, give me a little comfort.  He saw me sitting on the bench with my two coats, my headphones, my gloves, my knee shaking (not from the cold), my hood pulled down on my face.  He knew I was having a bad day.  But in the bus shelter, everyone was talking, enduring the misery together.  I couldn't hear what they were saying, my iPod cranked, but the body language said, "Where's the bus?"  Or "That groundhog lied, man."

 And there's me, the asshole, sitting on the bench far away from anyone.  Even invited, I just sit there.  This guy says lighten up and I say fuck off.

Something's wrong with me, man.

1 comment:

KickinAssTakingNames said...

I enjoyed this post and I can relate. Some days we all lose patience with people and their annoying crap. I give you credit for ultimately being able to find something positive in them and the scenario, despite your mood. That's saying something.

As far as mooching smokes goes, and mooching in general...I work with very low income folks, and I have learned that they have this whole mooching culture that those of us with jobs and moderate income just don't quite relate to. It's oddly accepted and the norm for them. When it's the end of the month, watch out - mooching is at it's highest. Some of my clients will literally stand outside of their apartments and ask random strangers walking by for a smoke. I understand smoking and the need for that, or any, vice. At the same time, seeing what I've seen of the mooching culture, at some point I question why people don't strive more to try and live within their means. Granted it's hard, especially on very limited income, but when you insist on buying Kools at premium price instead of Decades at half the price, it's hard to feel sorry for you when you don't have money to even catch the damn bus at the end of the month. I have one client who has cable and pays $70+ a month for that shit, yet I had to give him a bus ticket to get home last time he came to see me so that he wouldn't have to go out and "hustle" for it. Something is very wrong with that scenario.