I’ve been riding the #11 bus for a month now and San Juan is still misspelled on the reader board.
Using mass transit forces a rider out of her bubble. When it’s raining, she scurries out of the house into the car, buckles up, locks the doors, turns on the heater/air-conditioner, cranks up the music, and (if responsible) looks straight ahead until she reaches her destination. When it’s raining, a mass transit rider stands in the open air (if lucky, under an umbrella or a covered bus stop) assuming that the bus will arrive, waits in line to board, greets the driver (you always want to be in the good graces of the driver), hopes there will be a vacant seat, and either looks straight ahead in silence or engages in bus society. Riding the bus puts you in a position to notice what’s around you; the slower you go, the more you see.
Thin lady with bad teeth, sitting in a wheelchair (talking on her phone for the last five stops), hooked to a tiny Chihuahua wearing a red Service Dog vest, “Well it was when Momma still had Thanksgiving at her house, I told Gary or was it Leroy—I can’t remember where one began and the other left off—’Just don’t go and get into a fight with him, he has issues.'”
40ish, blonde woman driving a late model, silver Camry, pulls into the bus zone and stops. The passenger door opens and a thin, older man with his left arm in a blue sling whips out his right arm, grabs the roof, hoists himself up, hops on the curb, and slams the car door. His hospital gown, tied twice in the back, billows in the wind and his thin paper slippers flap as he walks down the sidewalk. The blonde woman smiles pleasantly at me and drives away.
Some pictures you just don’t take.
Rayleen: 74, Lucille Ball red hair, vegetarian for five years (still eats fish), moved to Idaho with her son—found it too isolated, nothing going on; came back to Sacramento, lived on Leisure Lane—too many old people waiting to die, now lives by herself in a studio apartment. Feels responsible for her friend Delia, from Leisure Lane, with early-onset dementia—children not interested. 53-year old son just called, needs a liver transplant due to Hep C (had transfusions when he was five), there’s no one but Rayleen to take care of him and his two “part-wolf” dogs. Kids and ex-wife not interested.
Dwayne: Forty-something, sturdy black man with a Michael Strahan smile. Had a good life in Atlantic City—worked as a blackjack dealer, owned a house in the suburbs with his girlfriend and her kids. Life unravelled when Donald Trump’s financial wonks decided to close the Taj Mahal. Moved back to Sacramento, works at a car wash, misses the kids, and misses owning a car.