while cleaning a sea of paperwork off my kitchen table (since i eat on the sofa), i found my car insurance bill, which was due in 4 hours. my agent couldn't take a payment over the phone or internet, so i gave the check to a local horseman who happened to be trailblazing near his hut.
changing low-beams also blows goats. i spent two weeks with a mostly dismantled headlight riding shotgun until my sad-sap act tricked the friendly Checker's Autoparts fix-it man to help me. but the whole way home i had dirt on my hands from trying to change it. ivory soap has never felt so refreshing.
now, i need an 82,500 mile change. does it ever end?
BurdenShare is a revolutionary program designed by Transportation Services as a way to put the guess work back into skipping class. Simply follow the myriad of posted signs directing you to the Como & Raymond stop, or don't follow them, and you have an equal chance at missing your first class.
Sound too good to be true? It's not! I won an extra 30 minutes to collect my thoughts at the beautiful Como & Raymond bus stop resort. BurdenShare: it could happen to you!
Transportation Services, Campus Connector, Washington Ave Bridge, Circulator, Bus Service, University of Minnesota
I think I'll split the difference and call him a snake charmer so I can finally end this post before I get myself in anymore trouble.
One stop after me, the classiest woman with godly poise and glamor enters the bus. She is in her 50's, cute and spunky blond hair, beatiful blue eyes and an extremely warm smile. Every girl on the bus should master her course on self-presentation. Her black and white dress was elegant and yet flighty, like the graceful swoop of a falcon in flight.
She's got a 40 year old pious friend who sits near me depending on the configuration of the bus. (I always like the sideways facing seats. He always likes the back. On some buses our venn diagrams overlap). Through their conversations I learned that she married (or had a child that was) an olympic athlete.
Yesterday she carryied a bag of 10 beets. Plastic handles stretched from the weight. Red t-h-a-n-k-y-o-u letters distorted as only beets can do. A fresh accompiament to what is sure to be a dilicious meal.
As I exited the bus I wondered:
(A) what she looked like back when she was my age. Has she always been so beautiful? Or did she emerge from a cocoon of frumpy XL t-shirts when her little birds left the nest.
(B) what she and her husband look like going out. Simply having her on his arm makes him the best dressed man at the ball.
I just shredded all of my savings account, checking account, credit card statements and receipts from before 2000. After compating it, shreddings fit nicely in a "tall kitchen" (10 gallon?) bag. One third of shredding snowman complete.
Road my bike to work after 18 months of talking about it. Took 2 minutes longer, wasn't sweaty when I arrived and could potentially save $7/week in gas. That's a free burrito!
Today there was a nut on the bus carrying a large papyrus bush. (Earth to loser, we don't use that to make paper anymore.) He had a fancy snap-down shirt (obviously a player), but dyed jean shorts (obviously not). And who wears a hooded sweatshirt in the summer? May he should have used the hood to hide his disheveled hair and the gleam of his eye, which could only be the sign of a misunderstood genius... or madman... His breath wafted of raisen and almond granola bars while he kept futzing over his damn plant taking up the walkway. Weirdest of all, he had orange shoe laces. THAT's what other people saw....
i sat across the bus from a guy who would make a perfect serial killer in the movies. 32 years old. loaner. straight, no-frills hair. large, brown plastic-rimmed glasses. simple, yet-worn t-shirt. engrossed in book (i can only assume the catcher in the rye). half of the 6 spades, cut down to bookmark size. green kakhi army bag "purse" hanging from his neck. i gave him jonneekkee's card and asked if his powerpoints needed help.
msp is no longer safe; for riding on the metropolitian bus system is the hairiest man ever seen. imagine robin williams doing a monkey. you pervert. now think of the furriest man you know and cross him with a wildabeast.... that doesn't even begin to explain the groves of thick black hair bustling from this man's shorts, sandals, short sleaves and v-cut shirt.
i couldn't tell where his regular hair ended, neck hair began and chest hair started... it was all equally thick and luscious.
but scariest of all was the ear hair. not IN the ears, but on the ears. growing from each lobe in a perfect "c"-- a halo of black fur enshrining his face.
Old lady enters. Exchange of polite, but cool, head-nod hellos.
Athletic girl skates onto elevator, adjusts songs on iPod Nano.
Old Lady: You know it's illegal to skate inside.
Girl: Yes, I know.
Old Lady: It tears up the floors and ruins the wax.
Old Lady: I guess that's your generation.
Old Lady exits.
Girl looks at me like, "what's her problem"
Me: I am completely appalled by you. I almost got out at floor 2 as a protest.
We say goodbye and exit separate doors.
I wonder what I had been thinking about on Floor 11.
"Big Bad Bertha" was driving today. She's cantankerous, full of spirit and requires a double-wide chair. Usually she's able to control herself, but today two cars induced honking fits. Oh my, to have been the horn on that bus.
Equally fascinating was the man-version of me--what I'd be like if testosterone were pumping through my vanes/vains. He was confident, self-assured and dressed to the 11's with a black pin-stripe suit and white partially-unbuttoned man-blouse. My backpack was replaced with a leather attachÃ© case and my iPod shuffle was upgraded to a Nano. We both, however, were handsome, intelligent tall-drinks-of-water. Before B.B. Bertha started jarring the brakes, we both approached the bus exit. We raced for the same Blegen door. He was one of the few people I found challenging to keep pace with.
riding to work today, an attractive well-to-do girl sat next to me and pulled out a juice box. (capri sun, the ritzy kind). i'd usually use sugary-products-early-in-the-morning as an easy introduction into my world, but juice boxes make me nervous. i was a blower. the juice box quickly filled with air and my t-shirt quickly filled with stainable red #40. i worried for two stops about whether she would squeeze juice on me.
we were sitting on the sideways seat, facing the door-side of the bus, like i like. without so much as looking behind her, she threw the empty wrapper behind her.... exited the bus and walked past a garbage can. if i already wasn't 2 busses late, i was going to bolt out the bus door carrying the juice box screaming, "wooooops! you accidently forgot this. here you go. you dropped it as you were leaving.... almost lost it forever.... no need to thank me."
i once watched a neighbor pull out of her driveway, litter a few bottles in the middle of the street and drive off. i picked up all the trash and left it in her mailbox.
the garbage can is a pretty simple invention.
Even though I have caught the bus home at different times this week, the same Naked chick has sat across from me or next to me (reading Naked by David Sedaris). I want to tell her it's not as good as Me Talk Pretty One Day, but she doesn't look like a devout Sedaris fan. She's too ordinary. Too married. I imagine her telling other couples that she had hamburgers and EzMac for dinner.... not a comment in passing: that was the bulk of "what she did today".... aside from choosing her clothing from a neatly hung wardrobe of 10 identical denim skirts and 10 plain, white t-shirts.
But that is probably what drives her to Sedaris... a trip from the mundane into the world of a man who worked as an elf and has a brother named "The Rooster."
I like him because I cut my finger today on a "ream" of 50 staples as I tried to fashion them into a bracelet using a twisty tie and rubber band. I thought it would look good with my binder-clip barrettes....
I always ride the sideways seats on the bus because I need the leg room. Today a gigantic heap of muscle lunged down in the row behind me (the next row facing straight ahead). He was macho, well-built and even tougher than Ford-Tough (Roosevelt-Tough?). His clothes were baggy and gangsta'-ish (which must have been a shopping nightmare since he looked like an XL to begin with). Unfortunately, he was leaning WAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay forward and crowding MY space.
The bus came to a semi-abrupt-but-still-in-the-range-of-normal stop and this big lug of a man tips over and onto my backpack which is resting on my lap. He was the disobedient child and I was the father figure who just issued an "on my lap" now for a spanking.
I never spanked the brute with a big stick or otherwise, but I worried for the next 10 minutes about whether he crushed my lunch. I didn't have the courage to rummage through my bag on the bus. Even if he smooshed my almond chicken, there was nothing I could do about it until I got back to my office... brief eye contact with him was enough to make me cry...
Today I road with a new bus driver. A lot of them are generic old men I have a hard time distinguishing, but today, I was chauffered by Rusty Buckets, an old-tyme Pioneering man's man. The red flannel jacket and scruffy beard smelled of fresh wood chips from an evening of building new cabins. His retro "potential bank theif" sunglasses added a tinge of urban tolerance. The grovel in his voice was only mocked by the poor shocks that jolted his chair every time we hit a bump.
I walk 5-10 minutes from my bus to the car. Along the route, they are tearing down "Steve's Warehouse", an old building somehow involved in "cheap foods". Every day the last week, there has been a different smell flooding the air... yesterday was baking bread.... last friday was tar.... thursday dust. It makes me wonder what smell tonight will bring and how long I'll have to wait until "Chocolate Fondue".... you'd think all those butch construction workers would take a fondue break eventually.... hopefully, it won't be too cold that day or I'll probably freeze to death with a chocolate infused smile on my face....
I memorize where different bus drivers stop the bus so that I can be the first person on the bus. Some of the bus drivers are less precise than others, but I'm almost always one of the first two in the bus.
Today a car pulled up about 30 seconds before the bus was schedule to arrive. The passanger kept kissing the driver, even after I could see the bus rounding the corner. Finally the girl got out of the car, grabbed her bag from the trunk, went back for one more kiss and then ran to the bus. She jogged about a foot from the bus at the same speed of the bus, so she stayed even with the bus door as it stopped squarely in front of me.... the only thing separating the bus from me was her.
I was upset that I'd be the second person in the bus today, but I told myself "it's not the end of the world" until she stole the seat I wanted. At that point, my only hope was that the habitual crosser would get her with his grimy shoe bottom....
The Habitual Crosser sat across from me today so I got a different angle... there is a nice dusty/muddy area on ONE knee from the constant cross-overs.
Every stop, he changed seats (3 total!) and each time as soon as he sat down the leg crossed itself.... it seemed like an automatic responce (like breathing or heart beating).
A HC friend of mine says the left knee on ALL of his pants is torn because of his constant crossing. What a freak.... uhhh, I mean all people are snowflakes.... interesting and unique in their own way.... Well, gotta go tighten light switch screws...
Today I road the bus with the Habitual Crosser. Immediately upon sitting, he crosses his left leg over his right leg and begins reading a thick book. (Today's: The Beatles). As soon as a seat near the bus door opens up (one that he doesn't need to share), he moves... even if it's for one stop. Half way before his stop he puts his book away so that he can be by the door, the first one to leave.
Dress: Nice clothes, but unkempt
Appearance: My height, black hair, clean shaven, winter hat.
Shoes: Tennis/Running Shoes, filled with sand/water/salt on the bottom. He also needs to pause reading when people get on/off the bus so that he can pull his foot in and not get muck on someone's coat.
On the bus today, I saw a reverse mullet with spike for the first time! (Check this one off my field guide to hair.) The front had a long, sweeping, over-grown combover that graced the man's eyebrows. The back was short 1" spikes in crispily gelled haystacks. The rest of his attire was equally contradictory: both eyebrows, corners of his lips and ears were pierced.... yet he wore a well-cared-for yuppy jacket, nice cords, and a spotless brown one-strap backpack.
Next to him was a girl in all red.... jacket, pants, gloves, scarf.... you name it, it was red.
I'm glad my glasses eventually unfogged this morning.
Today on the bus a really tall, butch, young, bald male was holding a book of Victorian Poetry. He dropped his pen, looked around briefly, and either didn't see it or didn't think he dropped something. I wanted to tell him it was just to the right of his shoe, but he was 7 rows away and I would have had to scream it (plus, the bus was full of people).
None of the other passangers seemed to care.... and it was a really crappy, chewed up pen. That's how I justified letting him lose it.... but I still feel bad about his 15c loss.
Today I road practically every colour train NYC has to offer. While waiting for my subway to arrive, I studied the map as a Scottish Tourist asked me if the green train stopped here. I hoped so since I also wanted the green line and she informed me she has been waiting for a half hour. Frusterated, she walked to another station and I hopped three different lines to get me where I was going. I stepped out of the subway just in time for a downpour and had to watch a play in soggy pants.... which meant I could actually enjoy it without worrying if I could make it until the end without excusing myself to the bathroom.
That afternoon there was a huge stack of cars waiting at a traffic light. One lady was really upset and honking like there was no tomorrow with a cigarette butt hanging out of her mouth. Only later did it strike me that she was also wearing a full clown costume. I can see why many writers like living here.
On the bus ride home last night, a young nurse (with a gaudy black ring on her engagement finger) talked about getting married. They registered at Marshall Fields and the China pattern they liked was marked down to 50%. Since she got 15% off anything she purchased while registering and another 15% off if she opened a Marshall Fields charge card, they decided to just buy the China themselves and register for other things. (“Nobody else would get that kind of deal.”) It was normally $140/place setting, but she was amazed to have paid a paltry $40/place setting.
That got me wondering: were both of the 15% discounts applied to the original price ($140) or the already-discounted-50% off price ($70)? After doing math the rest of the bus trip home, I realized she got a discount of about 72%.... meaning that one of the 15% discounts was applied to the regular price and one was applied to the already-discounted price. That was an answer I wasn't expecting. Just goes to show how fun math can be.
On the bus, I was surrounded by three people reading and each of them looked like their book. The guy to my left was a portly fellow with a good natured smile, rain gear and a messy briefcase. He was reading a tom clancy boat thriller. I presumed the girl with a disconnected aquamarine/grey plaid shirt was familiar with the rules of Dungeons and Dragons as she read Mysts of Avalon. The lady across from me looked plain and boring... well put together, but completely generic except for the dazzling times-new-roman branding on her white cloth bag that read "LIBRARY". She was reading a book about the Great Depression and how that related to Post Office Murals. We must have a surplus of doctors since it looks like people can do anything for a PhD dissertation these days...
But I would also like to bid ado to the myriad of other characters I have not spent much time blogging about… The two old brothers who live together with large glasses and Viking’s Football jackets. May the younger never grow to be as chunky and bald as his elder. The Green Jacket, who would frequently fall asleep with a newspaper as a pillow until the bus driver announced, “Would the man in the Green Jacket please exit. This is your stop.” And the Hindu Little Red Riding Hood, whose smile was always radiant and kind. She knew the bus driver also favored her as he would slow down near her corner to make sure she wasn’t running to catch the bus. May everyone's life be filled with the grace and elegance she exuded with each swipe of her Super Saver pass.
Everyday near the St Paul campus, there is a young gentleman who dashes at the last minute from the car he just parked to catch my bus. Usually he makes it and then sits behind me a few rows. I've always called him Jorge, but I also want to know what his real name is. Today he sat directly in front of me on the sideways seats and I noticed his name badge well hung in the crotch-al region of his body. It was tough to read the badge and I didn't want to stare, but I also wanted to know his name.... I'm afraid I stared too long and still didn't find out his name... and you can't just ask for the name after an encounter like that....
Likes it Cold
I just finished a bottle of Ceasar dressing and wanted to put more on my salad, but my only other bottle was warm. I can't handle warm Ceasar dressing. The flavor changes and I would rather eat nearly-plain lettuce than break open a warm bottle of Ceasar dressing.
Today on the bus, the princess in pink with her fuchsia knit bag sat right next to a girl in neck-to-knee lime green. My eyes watered as if the two of them had been soaking together in a vinegar Easter-egg bath all morning.
On Friday's bus ride home I met a 50 year old guy who is illiterate... and to be quite honest I feel strange writing about him. His step-daughter was learning how to read, so he wanted to stay one step ahead of her. I give him the courage award for going back to school after a 35+ year break (and even more props for currently using a Windows 3.1 machine.... this guy has a lot of balls even if he doesn't look like Lisa Loeb). He kept asking me what I did at the University and I tried to explain my very complicated job supporting the department's computer infrastructure.... a daunting task that not even my co-worker has been able to grasp after working closely with me for 8 months... but the more I tried to explain, the more insistent he got asking how many students I teach. Finally, I agreed that I am a teacher just so he could continue his story about not reading. End of class.
The last two mornings I have had a spastic bus driver who gets me to Crazyville by 8:30. He murmors to himself the entire time he's driving. Today, he announced, "Hey folks, look. He's got a bus schedule. How cute." Then he continued to talk to himself for a few blocks about the young chap he just let on the bus happened to be looking at his bus schedule when the bus arrived. That really got the bus driver going. Of all the places to see someone looking at a bus schedule, a bus stop sounds like a good place to me. You don't see people in the symphony scanning their program and then a bus schedule. THAT's strange.
But the thing that really drives me bonkers is how he is always early, and thus stops at 100s of stops that aren't scheduled. He'll just be driving along, slam on his breaks and let someone on. Why can't he run on time like every one else so he doesn't need to stop for (4 people today) running to catch the bus (5 if you count me). I need the bus to stop at bus stops on time. It's driving me crazy. AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhrrrggggggggg!!!!!!!!
Princess in Pink Smells Fresh
Four stops before I exit the bus every morning (actual 80% of my mornings) a girl enters who I call the Princess in Pink. She wears skin-tight, faded blue jeans (sometimes with embroidering work) and always a soft pink jacket with froo-froo edging. She has blond, curly hair that is parted down the center. She usually sits towards the front (like me), but sometimes has to stand if the bus is full. Today she sat directly next to me and she smelled surprisingly fresh. Not perfumy. Not like flowers or fruit. But fresh and soapy.
Man Sniffles Four Times a Minute
After work on Friday, I switched seats on the bus half way through my ride. Someone exited the handicapped seating and I thought I would snatch it up before someone else did. The guy behind me sniffled CONSTANTLY. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured he maybe just got in from the cold. However, the sniffles continued so I decided to record their frequency so I could tell whether he was actually sniffling constantly or if I was over reacting. You be the judge. (The timer was reset after every major snort... scroll down for the exciting table....)
Average Noise Disturbance: 20 Seconds
Average Snort: 47 Seconds
How do you position yourself on the bus so that you only get to sit next to people who you want to sit next to? Choosing your seat on a bus is a really tough decision. Often times, the clientele ranges from the loud smelly guy who keeps on muttering about cheese under his breath to the knock-out girl who takes your breath away, turning your brain to cheese. There is nothing worse than smelling three day old tuna as Meg Ryan walks past you to the back of the bus.
There were four women sitting across the bus from me this morning: two old women and two young women. The two older women looked like the younger women in 40 years.... no... exactly like the young women in 40 years... from 2-liter-coke-bottle glasses to the slightly puffy, yet sagging and wrinkled cheeks. It was really quite eire how similar the pairs were. Then I started wondering what if the pairs were actually the same person who somehow, through a knot in the super space string of the universe, wound up sitting next to themselves one warm, winter morn the bus was running 2 minutes behind schedule.