I woke up with a headache, and knew that today wasn't going to be the best.
After compulsively dilly-dallying, I managed leave my house just in time to miss the 44. The next bus didn't arrive for another 15 minutes, which isn't the most excruciating thing I've ever had to deal with, but it was cold and I didn't want to go anywhere anyway. Eventually the next bus pulls up, and I get on board and take a seat with the old people and the handicapped folks. As the bus arrived at 9th and Judah, I get off to make my transfer.
While I'm waiting, I leaned against the bus shelter. A guy about my age rides up on a very hip looking track bike and is almost immediately confronted by a drunken wreck of a person looking for spare change. I don't think the track bike kid spoke English, so the drunk switches targets and approaches me asking for change. After pretending to not be able to hear him through my headphones failed to discourage his persistence, I removed my headphones, looked him in the eye and told him that I couldn't help him.
The man starts inching closer to my face and begins exclaiming how ready he is to get a gun and start shooting everybody in his path. I asked him if he was serious.
"Of course I am. Can't you look into my eyes and see that I've had it?"
"Yeah, I can see that."
The man spins around and points at the track kid's bike, but continues addressing me, "I used to have a bike, until some motherfucker stole it!"
"When did your bike get stolen?" I asked him.
"Oh, years ago, when I was a kid. It was a Kuwahara. I had a Mongoose and a Haro too. You know, motherfuckers want to make fun of you when you got something nice. They want to take it from you."
It's always hard to remember that these drunken messes have lives. It's even harder to remember that these people had (and lost) lives that you and I would call normal. The drunken man clearly once had a passion for BMX bikes. He used to care about something other than the plastic bottle of shitty vodka clasped in his purplish, yellow stained hands.
As the man traipsed off, yelling at the people in the bus shelter, I tried to smile and count my blessings, but that just didn't work. As much as I try to sever myself from the grotesque spectacles that confront all of us in life, I just can't. My empathy runs deep. Empathy aside, I also know that my situation is just as tenuous as anyone else's. Fate and fortune have kept me safe for now.
The 43 Masonic pulled up to the stop, so I boarded and walked all the way to the back. I stood for a few stops, and took the first seat that opened up. In the corner of my eye, I could see a tweeky looking dude in a Dark Throne shirt attending to something suspicious in the rearmost seat of the bus. At first I thought he was just hollowing out a blunt or something similarly sketchy. All of a sudden, this dude sitting between me and The Tweeker jumped up, switched seats and started mumbling something under his breath, and eventually ramped up into a full on confrontation with The Tweeker.
For the second time in 20 minutes, my attempt at using my headphones as an excuse to avoid an awkward situation failed.
I couldn't ignore The Angry Man anymore as he started pointing at me and then the floor. I looked down to see multiple streams of liquid trickling down the floor of the bus and toward my shoe. I took my headphones out and asked what it was. The Angry Man said it was water that The Tweeker's dog had thrown up, and continued berating The Tweeker for being disrespectful to the rest of the passengers on the bus.
The Angry Man continued his harangue and The Tweeker eventually brandished a knife. The confrontation had now gotten the attention of the entire bus, and continued on the way those things go.
Realizing that his knife wasn't much of an effective threat to The Angry Man, The Tweeker pulled the wire, and prepared to get off at the next stop. As he grabbed his stuff, I caught my first glimpse of his poor, barely conscious puppy. The Tweeker began to disembark the bus, and muttered the obligatory parting threats which always extend confrontations a few moments longer. As he skipped down the stairs and through the hissing doors, I couldn't stop staring into the puppy's glazed and runny eyes.
I got off at the next stop, heartbroken, and walked to class.