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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hey Lady! Hey Lady!

Charles commutes to work by bus.

“Got a bus story for you,” he says.  “I know you’ll appreciate this.” 

As a writer and daily bus user, I hear these words a lot.

I cease the work I am doing on an e-mail, one in which I am reconsidering the paragraph where I accuse the person on the receiving end of having ingested lead paint chips as a child.  I grin at him.  The e-mail can wait.

“Whatcha got?”

“So I’m taking the 4, right?  I’ve got a seat in near the front in a forward-facing seat, not one of those aisle-facing seats.”

I nod.  Like many, I dislike the aisle-facing seats.  Land of babystrollers, wheelchairs, people who board on 7th and get off on 8th, the odd woman in spandex pants and seam-stressed bra-lets, there tends to be a lot of overturn at the front of the bus.

The front of the bus is where the action is.

“I’m sitting three rows back,” he says, “when a very tidy looking woman gets on.  Nice dress, purse, all very trim.  She sits down in one of the aisle-facing seats, pulls a book out of her purse, opens it up and starts reading.

“A stop later, two women get on, sit in the seats in front of me.  These two – how do I describe them?  Salt of the earth, perhaps.  Unpretentious.  Earthy.”

“Simple?” I say.  I find that bluntness is sometimes called for.

“As you say,” he says, nodding vigorously.  “’Simple’ could certainly be used.  There they are, these two, one very tall, one rather small, both missing teeth, both in need of a good moisturizer and, perhaps, a bath, when the woman at the front of the bus, the one with the book, catches their eye.

Hey! says the little one.  Hey!  Hey, lady!  Hey, lady!

“But the woman with the book, not realizing that someone two rows away from her is trying to get her attention, continues to read.

Hey!  Hey!  Hey, lady!  Hey, lady!  The little one keeps calling out, and now the larger one joins her.  Now there are two women calling Hey! Hey, lady!  Hey, lady!

“Finally the woman at the front of the bus senses that she is being addressed and turns a somewhat cautious eye to the women.  There are perhaps eight people, some seated, some standing, between her seat and where these women are.   She puts a finger to her chest, frowns and mouths one word: Me?

“These two in front of me – I can’t take my eyes off them – nod energetically, and the little one say, Hey!  Hey lady!

“And the woman with the book says Yes?

“And the little woman in front of me says Whatcha readin?  This catches the woman at the front of the bus somewhat unaware, and she turns her book around, looks at its cover, tells them the name of her book.

“And the little woman jams an elbow into the ribs of the woman next to her and hisses You see that?  She don’t even know what she’s reading! And they both laugh uproariously.

Charles shakes his head in bemusement. 


“One can always rely on the bus,” he says.  

23 comments:

Lin said...

I have a feeling they probably couldn't read the title of the book.

Sigh.

Ray Denzel said...

I wonder how they knew it was a book?

Indigo Roth said...

I read a book once. It was green.

jenny_o said...

"Simple" may not have adequately described the co-existing condition of bad manners ...

sage said...

When I am in that situation, I find myself wondering if I'm being buttered up (like a salesman who acts interested in my hobbies) before being asked for a handout.

bill lisleman said...

Sounds like the earthy simple ladies spotted a fake book reader. Just a pretender trying to blend in. Probably works for NSA.
Funny story but now I want to read that email you were writing.

Leenie said...

You gets your jollies where you can. Seeing a reader must have been a bizarre and astonishing event for the Simples.

jabblog said...

I miss a lot of life by not travelling by bus . . .

Joanne Noragon said...

A bra-let!? Pearl, I have been all over the internet to find a bra-let. There is no solid definition to be found, but the odd woman in Minneapolis has a seam-stressed one. I won't even imagine this one.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

One wonders what they'd say if they spotted you taking notes.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...(pssst, do I admit this or not? Yeah, go on...) As rude and disturbing as the simples behaviour was, I also asked the question, "why did she need to look at the cover?"...

What?! I'm an observer and just maybe the simples were too. Or they'd played that trick on every reader between on stop and off stop for the last 15 years!! Dang that reflex action. &`\

Nessa Locke said...

I would have said, "It's called a book. You should try it. They're all the rage." But then, I'm a littoe salt o'the earth myself. ;)

Sioux said...

It sounds like those two are the smarter one of their species...at least they could determine that the woman was reading...

At some point, will you be publishing an "All Bus" book? The fabulous thing is, you won't even have to make them up...

Geo. said...

The women in question were doubtless survey contractors who report reading trends back to publishers. Probably submitted the lowest bid and use cut-rate methods but sound like they enjoy their work.

Elephant's Child said...

Nice one. Again. As always. Thank you.

vanilla said...

I won't tell you how many times I have had to look at the cover to determine what I was reading.

Daisy said...

Ha! I think I would have been caught off guard as well.

joeh said...

Perhaps simple-minded might be a better description.

Reminded me of Jerry Lewis, "Hey Lady!"

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Ms. Reader's first instinct was probably to hold the book up and let the Simples read the title for themselves, but being the sensitive creature she is, she realized they might not be able to read. So a quick presto-change-o maneuver had her turning the cover toward herself instead. Or she was an alien.

BECKY said...

Hey Pearl! Funny story! And I agree with Vanilla, Daisy, and Susan. I don't think the woman was a "fake" reader. She probably reads so many books that she forgot what the title was of the current one.

fishducky said...

So what if she couldn't remember the title of the book--I don't even know what blog this is!!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Maybe they noticed she was holding it upside down.

Eccentricess said...

Knowing the name of the book is a challenge for the obsessive reader. Telling you the entire plot, not so chellenging. ;)