November 2, 2008

The Butt-inski

As the bus pulled up, a very big young man sauntered up to the front of the line. Oh my gosh, I thought, he's going to cut right in line! What a jerk!! Here in the USA no one cues up for public transportation. It's like a mad dash, it can get a little nasty too. The only exception is the luxury Commuter Express 34 bus; there is no standing, people line up quite nicely and are counted off as the seats fill up. Most nights cutting in line would be a problem, it would mean someone at the end of the line would not get a seat. But this was not the case tonight, only 15-20 had cued up in a rather unorganized line for the last bus of the night.

"Did you see that?!" I spontaneously asked the girl in front of me.
"Yes" she said wearily, "I'd say something but you never know what people will do."
"True...but I am sitting next to him!" She shrugged, "Whatever, who cares." And I was thinking, she probably doesn't have as many issues as I do.

Climbing on the bus I found him in the third row, sprawled over 2 seats. Though not that tall, his upper body was huge, thick and a football player, his shoulders alone would fill a seat and half of the other.

"May I please sit there?' he had to get totally out of his seat to let me in. I sat down pleased with myself, thinking of how I'd tell him off. I snapped pics of this smart-aleck kid with my iPhone. "I will blog about this"......but before long, feeling a little silly I was asking myself a few questions like, what is wrong with you?? Who made you the bus monitor? You hate people who try to straighten kids out like this. Look around ginny...nobody cares that he cut in line, they are too tired and not to mention the bus is EMPTY!!

I peered out the window at the darkening sky, then I caught the look on this boy's face. He looked tired and pensive. Just shut-up and let it go!! Tapping his immense arm, oh so lightly, he jerked in my direction.

"Do you know why I sat next to you?" he looked at me like I was crazy and then I said "I was really angry at you!" He immediately asked why and I launched into my defense of proper line etiquette, all the time sensing there is something bigger here. He listened patiently, and I wasn't feeling any better.....just worse! How ridicules I thought! He spoke when I finished.

"I never take the bus and in school no one ever got in a line, I didn't know...I'm really sorry I didn't even notice." Oh dear..who's the jerk now? I swear I always get caught when I do things like this!

"I was in jail all night! " he bemoaned, "I didn't sleep, eat or even shower, I guess I wasn't paying attention" Then I told him I was sorry, that he must need the whole seat to rest and of course he didn't know about the stupid line rule. He then pulled out one of those envelopes everyone gets when they leave the 13th St jail.
The story of the previous night tumbled out of his mouth. The officer had pulled him over and gave him 5 tickets. I perused the tickets, trying to sift through the details as the young man turned toward me. Still not believing you go to jail for 5 non-moving violations, I asked him if he had been rude to the officer. He was emphatic that he had not been.

"I begged him not to tow my car." He had just gotten it and was taking the girlfriend for a spin without proof of registration or insurance. He appeared today before the judge and was released. He pulled out the arrest report and handed it to me to read. It was neatly typed with the facts, just the facts. I read the first page, and turned to him,

"I think it was the gun that threw the cop over the edge" I said thoughtfully. "Was it registered?"

"Yes!! It is, I use it for my work and I did exactly what they told me in the class. When he came to the car I kept my hands on the steering wheel and told him there was a registered weapon in the vehicle. I don't know how I'll get my car out now and look at all these tickets!?"

We talked about his life. Suddenly it was his stop! He jumped up to leave, but not before extending his hand to me. My hand is hidden in his ..."Thanks so much! Sorry about the line!" I watched as the boy fadedinto the darkness. He bears the name a a man who spent a lot of time in jail, I say a prayer for the him, feeling humbled... the story is always more than you know.

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