The people at the front of the bus are frightened.
And who can blame them?
The bus crowd is a scary bunch.
See her over there? The one near the front, her with her hair in a “bun”, reading a so-called “book”? Probably votes a straight ticket.
And what about the man with the dog? Sure, he looks blind, but who knows, huh? They do that, you know, to lure you in and WHAMMO!, the blind guy’s got yer lunch money.
I shake my head in that almost-imperceptible Minnesota way I’ve perfected after years of silently judging and go back to staring out the window.
It’s the same, every day. The stop just before the river, the stop where the fare drops considerably, is the stop of the people who have driven in, park in a lot two, maybe three blocks away, and then ride the bus downtown.
And more often than not, rather than take a seat next to someone they don’t know, they will crowd near the front, looking studiously nonchalant as they sway and jostle against each other.
And then we make another stop, where those boarding are forced to sidestep the people who won’t sit down.
Why? Why won’t you sit down?
I look around, try to see it from their eyes. At 6:30 in the morning, the bus is filled with young Hispanic males in the black-and-white checked pants of the kitchen; Hispanic women with blue-black ponytails and folded hands in their laps; middle-aged white women with matching hats and scarves; white men with newspapers; a skinny white hipster in need of a sandwich and a haircut; a black man with a gym bag and his head against the window.
We have so much, yet we don’t have seatmates.
I close my eyes and think, hard. Come to the back. We’re like you, only seated! Come to the baaaack!
It’s public transportation. We’re in public.
And yet some of us seem afraid.
I want to tell them, the swaying commuters at the front, “I’ve been riding over ten years, two times a day, and aside from the time that guy pulled his privates out of his pants, it’s been a good run!”
I look around.
No, the guy with the lack of social boundaries isn’t here.
And the people at the front of the bus sway on.