Seattle has a wonderful public transportation system. I’m not being sarcastic, either, it’s really a very fine public transportation system, as public transportation systems go. The buses are pretty clean, they’re mostly electric, they’re usually on time. They’re so good that I don’t even bother to use my car to drive to work – I just take the bus. Makes me feel like I’m helping the environment or something.
Quite possibly the only problem with the buses is that, in the downtown area, they are absolutely free. “But Steve,” you say, “that’s a good thing.” Alas, it is not so. For one thing, I live outside the downtown area, so I don’t get the advantage of the free-ness. For another, lots of very peculiar people do live in the downtown area.
I’m sure you know the type – public transit philosophers. This particular group is noted for their constant state of inebriation, and their knowledge of everything there is to know about everything. They’ll tell you everything they think you need to hear, whether you want to hear it or not.
On one morning, in particular, I boarded the bus and took up residence in an empty seat. Since I can never remember to bring a book or other method of passing the time, my bus-riding activity is usually limited to looking out the window at the street.
At the first stop in the ride free area, however, a public transit philosopher boarded and sat down next to me, passing up four empty seats to do so.
“Hey there,” he said. Wow, that’s alcohol. “Spare some change?” I pat my pockets as if I were making some half-hearted attempt to look for change, and shake my head.
“That’s okay,” he says. “What’s your name?”
“Brian,” I tell him. I don’t quite know why. I hope this won’t keep me out of my sleep.
“Brian, do you have a girlfriend?”
“Amen to that,” he says. “Damn girls are more trouble than they’re worth. Always making us guys look bad. I’ve got a girl.”
“Yeah?” I ask, wondering if it’s even necessary for me to pretend to be interested in the conversation.
“Yeah. Whenever she gets out of line, I just whip out my boom bam bam and she shuts right up.”
Oh, hell, I think. Please tell me this guy isn’t going to tell me about how he threatens his girlfriend with a gun.
“She’s pretty nice though. Doesn’t like beer. Do you like beer?”
“Yeah, me too.” No shit, really? “Never get drunk though. You ever been drunk?”
“Yeah, a few times.”
“You shouldn’t. It takes away your edge.” He slurs the word ‘edge’ so badly I didn’t understand it at first. “Men shouldn’t get drunk. They lose their boom bam bam.”
“Oh,” I say. ‘Boom bam bam’ doesn’t mean ‘gun’.
“Look at me!” He’s practically screaming now. “I’m not drunk, I’ve still got my boom bam bam!”
Thankfully, this was my stop. We both stood up, he swaggered down the aisle and fell into another seat with another hapless passenger.
As the doors closed behind me, I heard his voice drifting out: “What’s your name? Jack, you have a girlfriend?” Oh. so different from my Boston Greyhound trip this way!