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Characters #1

A rather tired looking man who appears to be in his late 30s, dressed in a nice suit and carrying a beaten up leather briefcase. He seems to be somewhere off in his own world, staring blankly out the window and nervously tapping the seat with his cell phone. In the other hand, he clutches a bouquet of flowers. He strikes me as being nervous and pre-occupied, and the worry lines on his face make him look older than he probably is. The day is February 14th – Valentine’s Day.

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A cute Chinese girl at my bus stop. Her hair is curly in a way that does not occur naturally for Asian people, and she never once wears a hat, regardless of how cold the weather is. Every morning, she appears at the stop with a large cup of coffee, and though it is not immediately obvious, a look of silent resilience and complete exhaustion. On the bus, she finds a seat, leans back, and closes her eyes, serene and un-reactive to the bumps and jolts of the trip. She gives no sign of being aware of the people or environment around her, and I have never once seen her actually open her eyes during the ride*, but somehow, she never misses her stop.

* Admittedly, I have not kept as close an eye on her as would be required to know for sure, since that would, I think, be really creepy.

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A college aged boy slouched nonchalantly in the back of the bus with the hood of his sweatshirt still pulled over his head. He is handsome in a way that is somehow reminiscent of the look of the kids chosen to play the rebellious, vaguely dangerous delinquents in 80’s teen movies -- a little surly, a little greasy, and way too cool for school. I can easily imagine him being cast as John Bender’s character in The Breakfast Club. Unlike most of the riders on the bus, he does not avoid looking at people, but instead stares around the bus, examining the other riders with a challenging but bored gaze. In his hands he holds a deck of cards, which he repeatedly shuffles and reshuffles – a loud, obvious sound bizarrely out of place on a bus ride.

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A Hispanic teenager wearing huge, sagging jeans and a gray hoodie, skateboarding in the waiting area in front of Coffman Union. People waiting for their busses cannot help but stare as he careens along the sidewalk, and though he is surely aware of the attention, he ignores it with an air of nonchalant rebellion. He periodically tries to do tricks with the skateboard, such as skating on only one set of wheels or doing jumps and flips. He only occasionally succeeds.

When a bus pulls up, he skateboards up to the side of the bus and with his finger carefully draws what appears to be a picture of an enormous penis in the layer of dirt and grime on the window. This is done with great attention to detail and an look of concentration. Afterwards, he continues skating and waits for the next bus to arrive.

Eventually, he appears to become bored with the sidewalk and moves into the middle of the road, zooming down the street against the direction of the traffic and moving to the center divider when he spots a vehicle rounding the curve. He looks wobbly and uncontrolled as he does this, with his hands outstretched to help him maintain balance, and I am convinced that he is going to slip in the road and be run over by a bus. I think about what it will be like to be a witness to a gruesome and tragic accident, but my bus arrives and he, as far as I know, survives to skate another day.