Riding On a Bus With Old People
The driver instructed me to place four quarters in the machine. She smiled back, and without saying a word nodded for me to take a seat. I looked down range into the mob of gray hairs, with ginormous dark glasses and was immediately terrified that my youth would suddenly be taken from me. I’d never even known my grandmother, or grandfather. My parents had no siblings, so there was never a cool uncle or ravishing aunt to teach me about the dangers in life. Apparently the gray haired crowd gets up with the rest of us. You know, us folks who go to our jobs, that pay dirt, all of us fully committed to losing our energy for an entire week, so we can’t have any fun with the significant hopefuls we want to latch up on at the end of that interminable week. Someday I have to buy a rust bucket.
“You can sit here sweetie.”
Does she really think I’ll sit on her lap? “That’s all right I’m aiming for the middle seat.”
Ah, there she is, torn padding, rusted and lose backrest, right over the rear wheels so I can feel every bump. I take the only seat left.
“What’s your name?” I’m Doris.” Going to work?
“Ah yeah, going to my wonderful job. No car”
“That’s Jean-Anne over there, and Felicity in front of you. We ride to the mall every Thursday morning to walk.”
I only nod. Felicity turns a little and asks about my wonderful job. “Are you a carpenter? That sounds wonderful”
“I’m not a carpenter.”
Oh, I thought I heard you say carpenter. My husband was an electrician.”
I nod. “I wash dishes at a café.”
Doris askes Jean-Anne a question, I think. They both turn and look at me. Okay, I’m self-conscious. I think something is wrong with my clothes, or shoes, or hair. Doris asks Felicity, “What does he do?”
“He owns a café on Washburn street.”
“Washburn, his name is Washburn.?
“No, he owns a café on Washburn.”
“Oh, he washes clothes at the Washburn hotel.”
The three of them continue to talk. I try to ignore them, but they occasionally turn and smile at me. I just nod a little.
“Doris, did you say the seal was broken on his washing machine?”
“He’s a Navy seal. Oh my gosh. A real live hero on our bus.”
That I heard. And I looked at my toothpick frame. Definitely not a Navy Seal. The bus bounces down the pothole zone of route twenty-one. The engine seems to be getting louder. The ladies continue to chat, and look at me, and chat. I think they’re fantasizing.
“Kroger street, two more blocks,” the driver announces.
“Cougar, where’s a Cougar? asks Doris.
“Oh I’m afraid my cougar days have passed,” says Felicity.
“Jean-Anne, you still have some cougar in you. Don’t you?”
They all laugh. Then Jean-Anne looks at me. She waves when our eyes meet. They’re all batty!
The bus stops, two young girls from the back get off, and two elderly gentleman get on. They go the back, then one asks to switch seats with me. I get up and move back one row. The gentleman’s name is Tom; Felicity calls for him. He waves back. Then he fidgets with a hearing aid in his right ear.
Watch Arrival Right Now
“Tom, where you off to today?”
“To get fudge for the grandkids.”
Doris tells the others, “He’s fudged up, he’s going to the doctor.”
They all cover their mouths. Such revelations! Tom attempts to correct.
“No, I’m not going to the doctor. I’m going to the candy store to buy fudge for the kids.”
“Oh, he’s taking his son who owns the candy store to the doctor.”
“Doctor, who’s a doctor? The young man. I thought so. He didn’t look like a Navy Seal.”
Okay. Now I’m smiling a little. I’m being admired, and elevated in life from dishwasher to Navy Seal to Doctor. What’s next CEO of What-A-Burger?
“After the candy store, I’m going to Robbins to get some cloth for Claudia, she’s not feeling well, couldn’t make the trip today”
All at once, all three. “Tom, no don’t do it. I implore you don’t resort to this. We’ll help you. Whatever money you need. But don’t rob the candy store.”
Tom turns and says to me, “Thank God I only need to put up with this one day each week.” He laughs. The ladies continue.
“Tom, can’t your son the Doctor help? Please we beg you, don’t do it. Think of the children. The sad faces. You’ll scare them. Then Doris stands and out loud proclaims, “Tom, don’t rob the Baskin-Robbins.” She stands on one crutch, while holding the seat-back bar. “I’ll stop you I will.”
I lean forward. “Do they have hearing aids?”
“They do. But they won’t wear em’. Stubborn! Still clinging to their youth,” Tom responds.
My stops coming up. On my way to the front, Felicity pats my butt, and Jean-Anne seconds her. Groped on a bus. Don’t think I’ll share. While I walk the two blocks to work. I start to smile again. I can’t help it. It was funny. Maybe I’ll forget about the rust bucket. Nothing but a pain in the ass with insurance, registration, and changing my own oil.
© Copyright 2017 Artemis J Jones