You know the story.
A man cannot get over how small his apartment is. In the kitchen, he can stir what’s on the stove, wash the dishes, and check the contents of the fridge all while standing in one spot. The hallway is filled with shoes and made narrower by the coats on rows of hooks. And bedrooms? What bedrooms? Bedroom, yes; and then there’s the fold-out couch.
He tries not to be bitter. It’s enough for him, his wife, their son. Still. Why does it have to be so small, and when will he be able to afford a bigger place?
And then his wife’s family loses their home; and in they move, the two adults and their child, their bicycles and bedding and dogs and Tupperware.
You thought it was small before?
They stay for a month; and when they leave, the man is overjoyed. Look at this place, he exclaims to his wife. Can you believe what a big apartment we have?
I told you that to tell you this: the buses that you thought were full? They weren’t. But they are now.
I can’t put my finger on it. Since the temporary move of the bus stops from Nicollet Mall to Hennepin Avenue (where, last Friday – and I kid you not – I witnessed a woman wet herself in broad daylight), the bus/bus stop has become a changed place.
Gone are my plans to contact the Metropolitan Transit Commission with my Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Just People on a Bus program, (free mani/pedis, puppies to hold for the duration of your commute, a walk-in humidor).
What remains is the desire to maintain one’s composure.
There appears to be no limit to the number of people you can cram onto a bus, nor a limit to what comes along with those people. Suitcases, walkers, strollers, pizzas: if it is part of the human experience, if it can in any way be moved, heard, smelled, or yelled at/into, it will be there.
The woman next to me balances a take-out container of barbecued ribs, coleslaw, a corn meal muffin and a large Diet coke on her lap and then proceeds to eat it.
With her fingers.
There are signs prohibiting eating on the bus. Is she unaware of this?
Maybe she’s not from around here.
Maybe she’s never ridden the bus before.
Maybe she's a thoughtless twit sent to test the system.
At any other time, the driver would be able to see this, but the bus is filled past his having a view of the seats.
There is no one to save me from this lip-smacking eater of barbecue, and so I do what living in the city has shown, in this instance, anyway, to be the most reasonable course of action.
I close my eyes.
And breathe deeply.
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