Why I like the bus


I’ve talked now and then about what I hate about taking the bus. It’s dirty, it’s unreliable, and they keep hiking the fares. But there are things I like about it. I like being able to nap or read during my commute. I like the pretty girl who rides the Mississauga 57. I like not having to worry about flying into a road rage, and leaving that to the driver instead. I like chatting with fellow commuters about how shitty it is to take the bus.

But what I really like about it is that sometimes interesting things happen.

Case in point: I’m sitting in the back of the bus with a co-worker tonight, making idle banter. We get to discussing whether, since he shaves his head, it’s possible for him to get dandruff, or if it’s just considered dry skin.

“I used to take cosmetology,” pipes up an overweight girl who’s sitting across from us with a grocery cart. She explains that it only counts as dandruff if you’re bald. “You’ll have to pardon my voice,” she says. “I’m a little hoarse from walking down the street yelling at that blonde girl up there.” She motions toward the front of the bus.

“Who’s that?” I ask.

“My best friend,” she answers. “She’s a dirty fucking whore. She’s so goddamn stupid. We ran into her ex-boyfriend, and he asked us to come back to his place and chill, but I have to take these groceries to my grandfather because he has diabetes and he can’t get out. But she wanted me to give her the keys to our place so she can go get a better jacket so she could go with him. She doesn’t even have a winter jacket. She’s wearing my winter jacket right now. She wore it all last year. If it weren’t for me, she’d be frozen to death. I was fucking freezing, but I let her have it because she was pregnant.”

“Well, it’s nice of you to lend it to her,” I say.

“I’m not nice. I’m a menace to society,” she says. “At least that’s what the cops say. I fought eleven of them.”

“Why’d you do that?” I ask.

“One of them called my best friend a bitch,” she says.

“Didn’t you do that?” I ask.

“No,” she corrects. “I called her a dirty whore.”

“That’s right,” I concede.

“You just don’t use the B-word,” agrees my co-worker.

“So I knocked the cop out,” the girl continues. “Then they said, ‘Officer down!’ and eleven more came and then one of them pepper sprayed me, so I knocked him down and his pepper spray fell out of his hand, so I pepper sprayed four of them. ‘How do you like it?!’ I said. I hate the cops. They can kiss three-quarters of my ass.”

“They can kiss three-quarters of your ass?” I ask, incredulous.

“No, I said, ‘They can kiss my three-quarter white, one-quarter black ass.’ she explains, stumbling slightly in her words as she works to get the math out. Looking more closely, I realize she’s of mixed ancestry. This would make her what they used to call a quadroon, I suppose, and it’s really all that keeps her from being white trash.

“Oh. I liked it the first way, actually,” I say. “I might start using that. Although, normally, I guess asses come in halves, not quarters.”

“She’s so fucking stupid.” She resumes hurling abuse at her friend sitting at the front of the bus. “She broke her arm last year, and they gave her a half-cast, but she took it off because she didn’t like the way it felt. I came over to her house (we didn’t live together then) and I see that she doesn’t have it on. She’s just holding it in front of her like she’s wearing it, as if that’s going to help. ‘Where’s your cast?’ I ask her. ‘I’m wearing it,’ she says. Meanwhile, I can see it behind her, buried under some clothes. ‘If you’re wearing it, then why’s it behind you?’ I ask her. She looks all surprised. ‘How’d that fall off? she asks, like she thinks I’m going to buy that. Like she’s a fucking two-year old. She kept doing it too. Every time I came over, it was off. Then one day, she’s like ‘My arm’s sore,’ and I say ‘Where?’ and she says ‘Right here.” So I say, ‘That’s where you broke it. It’s sore because it never set properly.’ She can’t even slit her wrist right. She’s got a big scar across the top of her wrist. I tried to stop her, but I can’t get my fingers under the blade, now can I?”

By now, the other girl has had all she can stands and she can stands no more. She stalks to the back of the bus and starts yelling, “The way you’re telling that story about my wrist is all slanted! It wasn’t like that at all! You’re trying to make me look like an idiot!” The original girl starts yelling back at her, and it’s a pretty lively argument.

At this point, it’s my co-worker’s stop, so he rings the bell, steps gingerly between the bickering girls, and gets off. I make a mental note to remember the details of what happens next, because he’ll probably ask tomorrow, and also to continue subtly egging the loudmouthed girl on — just by letting her keep talking, really — until she incites her friend into throwing down. However, the other girl just slumps sideways on a seat a few seats ahead of me, sulking.

“She needs dick; that’s her problem. That’s why she’s like that,” the heavyset girl confides loudly in me and another guy sitting nearby.

“You need dick in your mouth, dick in your ass, and dick in your cunt!” she screeches loudly at the other girl.

“Go ahead, put your dick in her mouth. That’ll make her feel better,” she invites, turning her attention back to us. After a brief pause in which no takers step to the fore, she concedes, “I don’t blame you. She gives terrible blowjobs. It’s those big buck teeth. Plus, she’s dirty. She’s skanky.” She raises her voice again. “You’re a dirty slut, you whore!”

The heavyset one gets up now, and starts wheeling her grocery cart toward the front, violently and deliberately clipping her friend’s foot, which hangs out into the aisle. “Oops! My bad!” she says sarcastically. She throws a bag of groceries at her friend. “Oops! My bad!” she repeats. Her friend lashes back at her with a kick, and the heavyset girl throws herself onto her, fists and curses flying. After a while, she just gets up and returns to her original seat at the back.

“Why don’t you just go get hit by a car, you slut?” she asks. “When this bus stops, I’ll give you fifty bucks if you jump in front of a car.” Right about then, the bus pulls into Islington station. They’re not attractive, so it’s not worth my while to waste any more time watching to see if the catfight develops any further, so I get off and go straight down to the subway, where I end up sitting across from a guy proudly telling his friend all about how he’s a sociopath and one time some guy fell down in front of him having a seizure and he didn’t care either way the guy lived or died.

Normally, listening in the self-confessed sociopath’s conversation might have been the highlight of my commute home, but frankly, he just couldn’t follow the bus girls’ act.

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