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Friday, June 24, 2011

You Can Ask, but Really, There are No Transfers

Once again, we reach our tentative fingers toward the weekend in search of meaning, truth, and affordable snackage.

And so we consult my iPod during the morning commute to determine what lies ahead, because honestly, doesn’t your shuffled playlist tell you your future?

As my grandmother said, It couldn’t hurt.

Tiger by Maximum Balloon
Start! By The Jam
Washed Away by Arrested Development
Me Ever Changing Moods by The Style Council
Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley
Mandinka by Sinead O’Connor
Black Soul Choir by 16 Horsepower
The Revolution Will Not be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron

Wheeee! The iPod says that you will run into old friends, and you will be wearing new pants when you do.

My name is Pearl, and I approve this message.

I mean, really. It can only get better. And you know why that is?

Because recently, I've had occasion to ride the number 10 bus.

I know what you’re thinking. What could have possibly induced me to board the lawless Number 10, affordable mode of transportation for the shifty-eyed?

Well I’ll tell you.

I’ve changed my work hours, opting for four nine-hour days and a four-hour day on Friday, thus affording myself an afternoon of freedom.

And I have done what many have done before me.

I have missed my bus.

There it was, my regular bus at a new, irregular time and a full block ahead of me. Run! Run! Pump them crazy legs, Pearl! It’s 6:26, my heels clacking on the sidewalk, yoga bag bouncing on my back, my purse and lunch bag clamped under my left arm.

Run!

Ah, but when the lights change, the bus continues and the next stop is five blocks away, the odds of you catching it diminish considerably.

Will I wait 20 minutes for the next bus?

I will not.

Walk on, old girl, uphill and several blocks to the Number 10 Route, home of vagabonds and people who hit themselves in the head.

I’ve had occasion to ride the 10 before, a route which will eventually lead to a friend’s house but one that also runs through an area known for its affordable housing, its mental health facilities, and its daytime hookers.

The 10 is a hotbed of human behavior and just plain good people-watching.

Normally, this is something I want to roll around in, memorize for future reference, relate to colleagues over satisfying beverages.

Today, however, this is a poor start to a Friday and sullen early-morning proof of society’s loss of civility.

I remind myself that these people are my brothers and sisters as the woman who joins me five minutes after I get to the bus stop pushes herself ahead so as to board first.

I remind myself again as the man I sit behind consumes three cherry Danish and a pint of milk and finishes it all off with a belch I can hear over my iPod.

And I remind myself one final time when I turn off my iPod to listen to a man standing at the front of the bus inform us, musically and with much flourish, that he is “a hunka hunka burnin’ love”.

And with that, I finally smile.

My sister is rude, my brother has no table manners, and my crazy uncle at the front of the bus is a reminder that it doesn’t matter what I think of these people.

On the Number 10 Bus, we are all equal.

And I am looking forward to my stop.

47 comments:

mybabyjohn said...

It can only get better.

Camille said...

Makes your standard bus ride look like a roll through the park in a Limo...with drinks served. Have a great weekend Pearl.

Pearl said...

They're a special group, on the 10. :-)

Audubon Ron said...

Yeeeaaah, generally I don't like to get any of that on me.

Pearl said...

p.s. Thanks, Camille. :-)

Sarah said...

Maybe I need to get my nose out of the book and observe more on my own morning commute...I ride a pretty interesting route myself but I never seem to have as good people-watching experiences on a regular basis as you do.

This is Sarah from Geek Beaks...for some reason I haven't been able to comment under my own profile for weeks when it comes to your blog.

Glen said...

....want you to pick up my scarf.......

Have a great weekend!

Shelly said...

As a rural type person, I don't have the opportunity to ride the bus/ train. On a recent trip to DC, though, I loved riding the Metro. I did smell some folks on it, though, who put the "p" in public transportation. Hope your day gets better-

Pearl said...

Audobon Ron, public transportation takes a bit to get used to. :-) There are people out there that are smelly, thoughtless, drunk, beautiful, mentally ill, handicapped, stupid -- all kinds of cnditions. A handful are dangerous (I caught Swine Flu two years ago from SOMEbody -- and probably on the bus!) but mass transit is a good reminder that we are not as precious/special as we believe ourselves to be...

Tom G. said...

Public Transportation. The great equalizer.

Well, that and jury duty.

OK, public transportation, jury duty, and the line at the DMV.

Have a great weekend. And as Paul Weller sings in "Start!" ... "what you give is what you get!"

Pearl said...

Sarah, I'd say I have something memorable -- at least to me! -- happen maybe once a week. Honestly, I watched a woman easily in her late 70s stand at the front of the 17 last week, do a shuffle-ball-step before she got off and say to everyone there, "Don't be afraid to get old! It's not so bad!" and then depart. I have not had the chance to work that into a post yet, but some day, I may. :-)

Glen has left the building! :-)

Shelly, humans are interesting creatures, are they not? :-) I try to enjoy them as often as possible.

Pearl said...

Tom G., Do you or do you not LOVE The Jam?! :-) Have a good weekend!!

Eva Gallant said...

I love your bus rides!

Sioux said...

Pearl--

Perhaps you could write a chapbook on just your bus adventures...It would be better than the Magic Schoolbus series. Instead of Miss Frizzle at the wheel, it could be Mr. Frazzled. And just like Miss Frizzle explored the digestive system, microscopic organisms, and various scary habitats, so could you!

Caleb said...

I'm picturing: "home of vagabonds and people who hit themselves in the head."

Why do those 2 groups ALWAYS go together? Mysteries of life, eh?

Leenie said...

Humans, we may look a lot a like but we're sure a different lot. Wish I'd been there to see the shuffle-ball-change. Something like that just makes a trip out into the people world worthwhile.

Leenie said...

P.S. Guess how I'm spending my no-work-Friday (HA). Stripping!!! the wax off my kitchen floor. Already getting high on that ammonia. Whew. Making a ride on the bus smell like flowers.

Simply Suthern said...

Is your chasing the bus in your heels vocabulary as interesting as your writing style?

Joshua said...

I wish I could opt for public transport again. With young kids to be retrieved from daycare, an hour long bus ride does not compute. It used to be great fodder. And I miss that.

Pearl said...

Eva, and mostly, so do I. :-) Honestly, though , I do still have one story over five years old that I still haven't written, just becuase it was pretty disturbing. Some day!

Sioux, the next chapbook IS about the bus! It goes to Red Bird Publishing in Wisconsin on August 31. Honestly, I can't wait...

Caleb, it's all that dang affordable housing. :-) Seriously, thugh, there IS a guy on the 10 that hits himself in the head. I never sit next to him...

Leenie, you sound like me. I do that kind of stuff on my days off as well. Enjoy the stripping!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

I had the occasion to be downtown (that same downtown where your bus deposits you each day) last week. It certainly is a different world from my little suburban burg. But I believe every person needs to know what life is like in the big city. We are all just one head injury or financial disaster away from joining the "masses" along that downtown avenue.

Pearl said...

Simply, you know, now that you mention it, it probably is. :-) Hmm. Wonder if somewhere someone is writing apost about teh woman running down the block...

Joshua, ah. Been there. You'll be back, my friend! The bus is just too full of stories to not ride again!

Pearl said...

alwaysinthebackrow, you are exactly right. And you know, any area is what the people living there make it. I picked up a shopping bag blowing down Nicollet Mall yesterday afternoon and stuffed it into the garbage can. No one makes me do it -- and I'm certainly not getting paid to do it -- but why shouldn't we all care for our homes? Sometimes we pretend that it's none of our business or not our job...

laughingmom said...

If you had waited the 20 minutes, would you have been late? It's all about cost/benefit analysis here...

jenny_o said...

So good. Your writing, I mean.

And what alwaysinthebackrow said? I kept thinking that last week when you posted about the smelly homeless. "There but for the grace of God/luck go I."

Congrats on the new book!!

Pearl said...

laughingmom, yes. :-) I arrive a good 15 minutes early if I take the right bus, but if I miss it? Throws the whole dang day off!

jenny_0, thank you. :-) And yes, it wouldn't take too much for some of us to need help -- myself included. I have a friend who has had his hours cut in a rather low-employment-possible area back and has just, for the first time in a 20-year career, applied for food stamps. Luckily I've never had to ask for assistance from the government, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen...

Mandy_Fish said...

I love your crazy uncle. I mean, from at least the safe distance of this blog here.

savannah said...

20 years ago, i ran a shelter for homeless women. whenever i had to speak at a fundraiser, i'd always remind everyone that we're all a paycheck away from living on the streets. xoxoxoxxo

p.s. i love the bus chronicles, sugar!

George said...

Nice playlist today. The Jam especially.

jabblog said...

Living dangerously, Pearl. You are earning your Friday afternoon of freedom.

Wow, that was awkward said...

I bus a lot. One of my favorite routes in Boulder goes by a halfway house so my mates tend to be checking in with probation officer and such. Sometimes I feel like part of the chain gang.

lisleman said...

Public transportation should pay you for these posts - they really make riding the bus sound so thrilling, interesting, enlightening, and oh - scary?
hunka hunka burnin’ love - now that's an idea - a karaoke bus.
Hey what's this "Roving Gang Of Writer" all about?

Pat said...

All that running - you're going to be fit as a butchers dog.

Cake Betch said...

Pearl, I hope the weekend and those new pants are everything you hoped they would be.

aBroad said...

How can your weekend be bad with new pants ??
Really, think about it , Pearl.
And gee, thanks for putting the tune of Start in my poor brain .. over and over and .......

LeeAnn said...

I stopped riding the bus for a while when I realized I was a freak magnet. Then I started up again because I needed blogfodder and violin players draped in an old blanket standing in the fountain downtown don't just grow on trees.

Cloudia said...

you make the most of EVERYTHING, Pearl!



Aloha from Waikiki


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Belle said...

I am always telling myself we are all brothers and sisters. But what a f*#@ up family!

Linda O'Connell said...

They walk among us, and they all know how to find ME, I attract the kooks.

On My Soapbox said...

Yup, there's nothing like getting sweaty in your work clothes before you get to work. Been there, didn't have fun....

Audubon Ron said...

Mass transit is a good reminder to save up and buy a car.

The human condition is this way, listen to me, I'm your senior and hold my rightful place with the elders at the city gates.

We humans straddle a line all our days. One foot in feral and one in civilization. Some days two feet in civilization but that is more of a hopscotch. If our necks were any longer, we'd be licking our own butts.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I'm always impressed with your interpretations of the Friday playlist. I think this one's my favorite. And the "hunka hunka burning love" is my favorite fellow passenger of yours. I hope you don't ever see him again, though.
Happy weekend.
xoRobyn

River said...

The number 10 passengers sound like a friendly bunch. Cherry danishes, singing...

W.C.Camp said...

It seems you could write a WHOLE BOOK about the #10 bus and its menagerie of riders. If you keep riding though you will have to come up with your own 'oddball' characteristic so others will have the same opportunity to blog about you too! Nice post! W.C.C.

Bushman said...

I love new pants. I don't even wash them first..just take the size sticker off the back of the pant leg first. It's nice that you admonish your travelling companions instead of staring at the half chewed gummy bear that lays at your feet the whole ride.

Pat Tillett said...

the great equalizer...

Another great bit of writing Pearl!

Susan in the Boonies said...

Sing with me:
I'm justa hunka hunka burnin' love: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Thanks for the mammaries. Memories. Whatever. We're riding the #10, here, remember?