I've been taking the bus somewhat regularly for the past twelve years, starting when I got my first job as a student aide at age thirteen (previously mentioned in this post). Initially my mother would take me to work, but she understandably got tired of driving the ten or so miles - which I found interesting because she pushed me to apply for the job in the first place, but I digress. Long story short, for the benefit of both parties she taught me how to take the bus. She told me which one to take and at what time. She also told me to have a book handy if in the event that I got bored. The most invaluable piece of advice she gave was that I not draw undue attention to myself or talk to strangers. I took this as an opportunity to observe the hell out of who came through the doors at nearly every stop. This I could do. This I did, happily.
I grew familiar with a number of people in my first year on the bus: the older gentleman of about ninety with the jet black hair, the big n' tall woman who sometimes smelled of chicken noodle soup. One particular day in winter, however, a man came on the bus that I would never forget. His head was bald, his face shaven, the corners of his mouth soft and drooping. He was all dressed in dark blue save for a pair of brown shoes spotted with age. He carried a big rolling bin draped in a black plastic bag with a Linus-blue blanket on top of it. The handle had duct tape wrapped around and through it. That wasn't enough, of course - he wore a pair of yellow goggle glasses that literally magnified his eyes to the size of silver dollars. That day he stood in front of me, grabbed onto the bar overhead for balance and inadvertently or otherwise proceeded to bore out my soul as he towered over me. I was already tired and cold that morning, but at that moment, I quickly became frightened for my life.
Over the years we would see each other again - he would board the bus, and I would sit further away from the front, where he generally liked to sit or stand. This guy and I probably shared a space every day for the next five years thanks to that East-West bus each morning.
Fast forward another six years to 2010 (read: this morning) and to my taking a North-South bus as part of a regular commute. Who should I see board the bus just like it was yesterday? Creepy Mangnify-Eye Guy, that's who, except for one difference - he was wearing a khaki green hat. Still had the rolling bin. Still shaven, eyes still big as saucers. He could afford to be cleaner, but at least he looks healthy. Actually, he hasn't aged a bit. Perhaps he's Death.
What? You were expecting more?