Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bikes, books and buses.

I had to go into to work today. It would have been a total bummer if I didn't get in a nice bike ride. There's a TTA bus, the 101 to be exact, that goes from downtown to the Transfer Center, but nothing that goes to my office. So I rode my bike. Using the bike rack was easier than I thought. What I was unprepared for was sitting in the front of the bus moving at highway speeds watching my bike bob around like a buoy at sea. I know the bike rack is firmly bolted to the front of the bus, but it was quite wobbly. I rode up the hill from the depot to Davis, and a mighty little hill it was. Sam the Bus Driver even commented that he was impressed I made it up the hill. Unfortunately, the rest of the way to work was also uphill. With a misty, windy rain in my face. It was still a nice ride. And it meant going home was down hill. Even on a Saturday the folks driving on Miami Blvd were assholes. That makes me sad. It rained fairly hard while I was working, which meant my seat was SOAKED by the time I left. That was very unpleasant. Hopefully my seat will dry out at some point in this lifetime.

Sam was driving. I like Sam. Sam is super chatty. Sam always knows someone who can help you out and he'll be happy to talk to them for you. Cross Eyed Mary was unhappy with her job and somehow Sam knew the president of Duke and was going to talk to him for her. Today, Sam was going talk to another bus driver for me, to have him drive off his route to drop me off at my office on Saturdays. I told him I liked riding my bike.

On Hillsborough Street, near the Wilmont, a man was waiting for the bus. As the bus stopped, Sam says, "Oh Lord, are you kidding?" I wasn't paying attention until now. He opens the doors and asks the guy if he's moving. Homeboy gets on the bus with two double bagged paper bags, a liquor box, and a big black garbage bag. They were all full of books. A plastic garbage bag full of books? Doesn't that defy all laws of common sense, physics and gravity? It took this dude 5 full minutes to get his crap on the bus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I write the blog that makes the whole world read.

Boyfriend was driving the bus this morning. MSG was sitting up front, chatting him up. MSG was wearing his usual D&G glasses, tight jeans, and today a sweater in a shade of tan that did nothing for his porcelain skintone. He had a giant suitcase with him. As we were driving by the arena, MSG exclaims in a not-sardonic-enough tone of voice, "Oh no! I'm going to miss Barry Manilow!" Apparently Barry Manilow was in town. Sadly, I missed him too.

However, if you are looking for a rollicking good time, the Renaissance Faire is at the Fairgrounds this weekend. Huzzah!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Loretta Lite

There is a woman who rides the 105 who bears a striking resemblance to my friend's mother, Loretta. She, however, is most certainly not Loretta. She doesn't really have the same sense of style. The Real Loretta(TM) makes most of her own clothes. This Impostor Loretta definitely doesn't have the accent. Remember when when you were a kid and your goldfish died but your parents didn't want to tell you so they replaced the goldfish in the hopes that you wouldn't know but you did. It's like that. It's just not the same. Now this woman does have some redeeming qualities. She got Babushko talking. He was remarkably sane. I am solidifying my theory that he's perhaps had a stroke. He was giving her the Easter low down on St Patrick's Cathedral.

She also got Alfonso Ribeiro talking too. Think Tone-Loc with a lisp. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bob, Special Ed, and The Red Headed Stranger

The first time I took the bus to my current job, I saw Special Ed. It was impossible not to. He stood next to me at the Transfer Center while we waited for the same bus. I don’t mean he and I were waiting in the same area, on the same sidewalk, under the same shelter. No. I mean, he was shoulder to shoulder with me. I moved, he moved. This guy has no sense of personal space. He sits next to me on the bus. If the bell isn’t working on my side of the bus, he’ll signal the driver to stop for me. Sometimes he does anyway. He works at Piper’s In The Park. It is one of the many lunch cafes nearby. Now that I know he works there, I will not go in there. I will only eat their food if someone else gets take out, which isn’t too much of a sacrifice since their food isn’t all that hot. I doubt Special Ed does anything more than washing dishes. I used to think he might have some sort of mental disability. I have heard him talk on the phone and to other people. While he may not be all that bright, I would suspect that his IQ is at worst a little below average. In appearance, he is about average, not too short, not too skinny. He is young, maybe 25, African American. He wears glasses, like Amy Number One’s, the kind that magnify his eyes. His glasses are always dirty, greasy even. He always wears his red work hat. Behind his right ear he has a big pink scar. It’s the kind of scar that can only result from some terrible accident. He doesn’t sit next to me anymore, but he does sit in the sideways seats so he can stare at me. His ritual is to get on the bus, sit down and look at me. Because I am already giving him the Evil Eye, he looks away, starts talking to himself, looks at me again, looks away, and continues in this Clockwork Orangian loop until we get to the Transfer Center. Frankly, it’s really annoying. He was on the bus this afternoon. Thankfully he is only a part of my day for a grand total of 20 minutes.

Bob is not at all unlike Special Ed in behavior, and not at all like him in appearance. Bob always wears a black baseball hat with neon paint splatters that would have been cool in 1984. Under the hat is straight, bleached blonde hair, so obviously fried from processing. I have to wonder if the hair is attached to the hat. Bob is white, probably pushing 40. He frequently wears pseudo Bill Cosby sweaters with a plaid shirt poking out at the collar. He doesn’t smell very good. He always carries 3 or 4 tote bags, packed full. Sometimes his newspapers are in a tote bag, sometimes he carries them in a plastic grocery bag. He wears glasses from the same era as the hat. He wears a string on his glasses, presumably to hang around his neck, but they are always perched on his nose. He also wears earplugs, the kind with the cord that goes around your neck. On top of the earplugs, he wears earphones. He has to sit in the front seat opposite the driver. I really am waiting for the day that he gets on the bus with a glass jar and goldfish around his neck. While Special Ed annoys me, Bob gives me the creeps. There is a TTA bus that comes from North Raleigh and turns into my second bus. He rides that bus, so I see him everyday. When he gets off the bus, he tries to say hello to me and waves. I can usually dodge him, but generally he gets the same expression as Special Ed. One day recently, he decided to take my second bus to Raleigh, rather than his. Could be that he needed to. But I doubt it. I rang to get off at my usual stop. I exited through the back door started to walk down the sidewalk. The bus moved a few feet and stopped again. He got off. I was ready to kick ass. I stood still and waited for him to walk away. Damned if he didn’t head to the bus stop in front of my apartment. Now what do I do? I am not about to let him see where I live. I walked in the opposite direction down St Mary’s Street, turned down Morgan and came up Boylan. I cut through the parking lot behind the apartment building next to mine and hopped the stone wall on the far side of my building and went in the back. It must have looked like a Family Circus Sunday comic. If I ever don’t make it home, look for that guy. And my body parts chopped up in his tote bags.

I’ve been seeing the Red Headed Stranger recently. He rides my second bus in the afternoon for a couple stops. He has bright red hair, as in shiny new penny red, beautiful blue eyes and a goatee. He is c-u-t-e cute! As best as I can tell, he doesn’t work in an office. Maybe he’s a student, maybe he works outside. I can’t tell. Either way, it makes him interesting. He doesn’t have BO. In fact, he smells quite nice. (He sat in front of me the other day.) He’s in good shape, doesn’t carry tote bags. I took this all as a good sign. Until I heard him talking to the driver recently. When he opens his mouth, he sounds like Forrest Gump. Why do all the good boys have to married, or gay or...retarded? Arrrgh.

Bigman was on the bus today. Sprawled out, eating his hair again. There was a fine, barrel-chested specimen of a man sitting near him. The kind of guy who had to have grown up playing football in Nebraska and is probably named Ollie or Orin or something similar. He couldn’t stop staring at Bigman from behind his mirrored Oakley Blades.

Lefty got on at Labcorp as usual. He rides both of my buses. Super nice guy, we’ve chatted a couple times. Nice guy. Wretched breath. He passes out on the bus everyday, like a baby. Sound asleep. Head back, mouth open. I need to start carrying those Listerine breath strips and pop one in his mouth when he passes out. It’s really awful.


Norman drove my bus this morning. Norman is a super nice guy. I can read a book when he drives without getting sick. The bus is always on time.

It's just that, well, Norman looks like he could be the love child of Ice-T and Rick James. Seriously. You know how with some kids you can see a resemblance to both parents? Yeah. He wears a fake Kangol hat. Always. And driving gloves. Always. He also wears hiking shoes with his TTA uniform. During the day he wears these mirrored pimpy sunglasses. Norman's probably pushing 60, which makes it slightly more amusing.

Norman's cool.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today's observations

I haven't seen Babushko in about a week. Perhaps he took a trip for Easter. Where would he go?

The vet school has about a dozen new calves in their herd. I'm still waiting on confirmation, but it looks like they couldn't be any cuter. Most days when the bus drives by, they are all laying in the grass together. I also noticed that there is a Chik-Fil-A billboard within sight of this particular pasture. It's the kind of sign that has one cow statue standing on the other cow statue like they are painting the sign. I wonder if the cows see it. If they do, what do they think about it?

MSG (metro Sexual Guy) was on the bus tonight. Still rocking the bowl cut. He was wearing the ultimate London Hipster finery...yet another pair of Pumas (I'm going to start counting), his painted-on jeans, not one, but two track jackets, and a Manchester United shirt. Now I know it'll never work out between us. I've always been more of an Arsenal girl myself. He was sitting on the other side of the bus when we left RTP, but a couple stops later when the seat in front of me opened up, he moved over. The sassy bus driver, Funquita, was giving him a hard time because she accused him of sneaking on the bus. He then swiped his pass again and challenged her to find a passenger who would agree with her. Up until this point, it was amusing to watch their repartee, as it were. It became even more amusing when he turned around and tried to enlist my help to plead his case. Luckily I had pulled out my book and iPhone long before. I pretended not to notice. I am beginning to regret that decision. Next time I will engage him in a conversation and see what I can get out of him.

Lately, on certain busses, I've been smelling something. Not your usual BO, too much perfume, stale cigarettes, etc. Waffle cones. I've been smelling waffle cones. I'm not sure what that means. Am I going to have a seizure? Or maybe that's when you smell toast. Am I craving Ben and Jerry's? That may well be. It's bizarre. I can't figure it out. Certainly some old, rickety city bus with 200,000 miles on it wouldn't naturally smell like that. People don't usually smell like waffle cones. At least not the ones I know.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bus pass? Check. Bus schedule? Check. Kevlar? Check.

I needed to go to AC Moore yesterday. It's the only place in town I can get Lion Brand Cotton-Ease , and since there are now babies and dogs in my life who need to keep warm, I had to go. To get to this particular AC Moore, I have to take the Number 1, Capital Something. Now, people who know me, know I am a tough cookie. I can take care of myself pretty well. When I am walking down the street, I don't get nervous. That said, I'm not so sure I'll be taking the No. 1 again any time soon. The crowd that rides the No.1 is, well, dodgy to say the least. The bus was fairly crowded. I was sitting by myself on the aisle seat. A woman gets on and decides she wants to sit in the seat next to me. Without looking at me, without speaking to me, she slides across my lap and parks it. I say, "excuse me." And she gets an attitude. (Seriously?) When a seat opened up across the aisle, I moved over. This prompts her to start a conversation with the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) in front of her about how I don't need to be riding the bus. Riiiiight. Okay.

On the return trip, several Urban Youths got on in their OG Finest. Super baggy jeans being held up by sheer will, "Tims," a t-shirt which may or may not have belonged to Andre The Giant at some point, and parkas. Huge parkas, with the hoods up. I may have failed to mention at this point that it was EIGHTY DEGREES yesterday. I had on a t-shirt and short jeans and I was roasting. Now, these kids in and of themselves don't scare me. What did freak me out a little is that, in spite of the fact that there were several seats together, they chose to spread out. One sat up front, next to me, the others sat in the middle and the back of the bus. Perhaps they weren't together after all, but they sure appeared chatty as the bus was rolling up to the stop. I'm guessing these aren't the kind of youngsters to strike up a conversation with strangers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Upholstery, or the beginning of Stevie Wonder's decorating career.

We went from this:

To this:

Good job, guys.

The Oracle of Raleigh, or the reason why I am still single.

Raleigh, about a year ago.

Meg gets on CAT Number 4. Sits down in first forward facing seat, next to sideways seats. Older African American woman with disheveled appearance is sitting in sideways seats. She is traveling with many overstuffed tote bags. She is mumbling to herself, rocking back and forth.

Woman turns to Meg shouts, "You are never going to find a husband if you keep wearing glasses."

Woman turns around and resumes insanity.

End scene.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A very large man rides the 105. Sometimes he goes to the Airport Mall, sometimes he gets on at the Airport Mall. He sits on the sideways seats. Not because he is a larger individual, but rather because he likes to spread out. Not at all unlike a Playboy model. He'll usually begin his ride by holding one hand in the air, finger pointed and tracing numbers as though he is attempting to add up something. He then will chatter away to himself for sometime. He falls asleep a couple times in that way that only a narcoleptic can. His standard uniform is a red sweatshirt and brown pants. I don't get them impression he is required to wear that, though.

A couple weeks ago, he was on the bus. He went through his addition/subtraction, nap, conversation, nap, conversation routine. After this, he raises his right hand to the right side of his head and pulls out a few hairs. What does he do next? He eats it. You heard me. He ate his hair. My man pulled hair out of his head, put it in his mouth and began chewing. Did he do this once? Oh no. Lather, rinse, repeat? Nope. Pluck, chew, repeat. I swear, he must have done this, like, ten times. This was the single most disgusting act I have seen committed in public. Worse than the dude putting on deodorant, the other guy flossing, or my former coworker barfing into her trash can at her desk...and continuing to work!...He plucked hair out of his head. And ate it. It makes my stomach queasy just thinking about it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The bus matches my lunch box!

Today, the TTA rolled out new buses. Just like the CAT buses, they have that new car smell. And the ugliest upholstery I've ever seen. I'll see if I can get a shot tomorrow of both the old and the new seats.

And what did all of this excitement mean for me?

Chocolate. The blonde lady in the blue (in the first photo) was handing out chocolate to the people riding on the new buses.

And just in case you thought I was kidding, the bus really does match my lunch box.


In the morning, I wait for the bus at the Chargrill. Most mornings, a tiny old man is waiting there. Some days, his pants are about 3 inches too short, exposing his white tube socks. He carries a blue tote bag, stuffed to the gills. When it's cold, he ties a ratty, plaid silk scarf around his head like a little old Polish lady. I can't figure this guy out. He makes noises, somewhere between a grunt and mumbling under his breath. He seems to fall somewhere between a crazy person and a stroke victim. I usually can't make out what he's saying. He doesn't smile. He'll pick up the trash out in front of Chargrill.

When I arrive in the morning, I usually sit down on one of the benches. When Babushko realizes I'm there, he'll pick up his tote bag and walk over to where I am sitting. He stands about a foot away, grumbles and walks back to where he was, with his back to me. Is he saying hello? Is he damning me to the firey depths of hell? I just don't know. I have to admit, he made me a little nervous at first. When he "greets" me in the morning, I smile. I lose track of him in the morning when we get to RTP. I'm not sure where he goes.

He absolutely refuses to get on the bus before I do. No matter how many people are there, he makes sure the women get on the bus, then everyone else can board. This morning, I was able to make out "ladies first" as I was getting on the bus.

I really would like to know where he goes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

That's what I get for trying to add more vegetables to my diet.

I tried to go to the Farmer's Market this morning. I went to the Go Triangle website, punched in where I was and where I wanted to go, and was told catch the No. 6 Crabtree at the corner of Glenwood and Morgan. I went down there, a couple blocks away and waited. And waited. And waited. The No.2 went by three times. But no six. I finally gave up and began walking downtown to More Square. I went to the lady in the booth to tell her what happened. As I started telling her, she shoves a schedule at me, interrupts me and tells me to check the schedule. I start my story again. Again she tells me to check the schedule. Luckily, there was a guy in the booth with her who was listening to me. Because clearly, she wasn't. The bus didn't show up. I don't need to read the schedule to know the bus didn't come. Crazy lady.

So, I ended up catching a bus home. I never made it to the Farmer's Market. I'll try again next Saturday. I'm really jonesing for some fresh beets.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Nurse Prince was on both buses today. This afternoon he was picking his nose. Class-eeeeee. Way to go, dude.

A guy in a grey Member's Only jacket got on in RTP and when we got to Blue Ridge Road, he turned around and asked me where the bus was going. Really? Aren't you kind of committed at that point? We'd been the bus for 25 minutes. One day, I'm going to lie to someone. "This bus? It goes to Apex. Why where do you need to go?"

The firehouse next to the District Drive Park and Ride is flying their flag at half mast. My best guess at the moment is they are mourning the loss of Elliot Spitzer's dignity.

On Hillsborough St, several people got on at once. A little girl with an exceptionally large man who smelled remarkably of vinegar. A tiny Hispanic man who looks very much like Tattoo. And someone who I swear was the the tall, skinny black dude from Pirates of the Caribbean. You know the guy with the long dreads. IMDB has failed me. I can't find a proper picture of him.

This guy also rides my bus. He lives right around the corner from me, but he drives to the P&R. I can't figure it out.

My new favorite passenger is the MetroSexual Guy. I keep seeing him everywhere. He lives somewhere near me. I've seen him in a couple bars downtown. His jeans are a little too tight, which is ironic since he's totally lacking muscle tone. He's kind of...well...squishy. Like a girl. He's got glasses similar to mine (there's hope for him yet!). Currently, he is rocking the bowl cut. I'm trying to figure out a good way to tell him he shouldn't feel so good about that decision. He usually has his laptop with him, he plays golf. He just cracks me up. He clearly fancies himself a Rock Star. He so clearly is not. He's exactly the kind of guy who makes me happy I'm not 25 anymore. What's driving me nuts is that I can't come up with a good name for him. I'm going to have to stew on this for a while.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An open letter to the individual who caused the three car pile up on I-40 this evening and stopped traffic for 30 minutes.

Dear Sir,

You are an idiot.



An open letter to Cross Eyed Mary

Dear Mary,

I just wanted to let you know that your lotion smells wretched. Just because Bath and Body Works makes it doesn't mean it smells good. The fact that you needed to use so much of it at once makes me concerned about your personal hydration needs. I'd suggest drinking more water rather than using a half of a bottle of lotion that will give some one a migraine headache in such a small, confined space.

Yours truly,


Ps. The little black, quilted jacket you had on today was cute. I think there might be hope for you yet. Unless of course, it was a gift. In which case, there's no hope for you.

Today's observations

1. The cute bus driver was driving the 105 this morning. When I got on the bus this morning, he said, "Good Morning. How are you?" I think this means he's secretly in love with me.

2. Nurse Prince is a dumbass. He's this guy who dresses in bright purple scrubs, every time I see him. With a matching purple "leather" baseball hat. He just can't seem to get the hang of putting money in the machine. To this day. He just doesn't get it. Clearly, he's not a doctor. If he is, god help us! (Hope his med mal is paid up.) And Prince, well, what other self-respecting man wears head to toe purple day in and day out?

3. I've been listening to the Arctic Monkeys a lot. I think I need to move to London. Or maybe I just need more Brittish slang in my life.

4. A coworker, Frank*, was on the bus yesterday. He was telling me about the time he was on the 48 to work and there was a guy who was saying the rosary. Out loud. Beads and all. And then he asked to get off the bus at the railroad tracks. That's kind of creepy.

5. I had a dream lat night that I married a football player from Nebraska.

6. The Other Amy was reading The Lilac Bus. I don't know how I feel about that.

7. Cross Eyed Mary rides the 48. She works at LabCorp as an "Extraction Specialist." Basically, it's her job to handle my pee. Sometimes a person has a lazy eye that occasionally wanders off. Not her. One eye points in a totally different direction. If she's sitting sideways talking to the bus driver, which is most of the time, she's looking at both the bus driver and the person in the seat behind her. It's unnerving. Today she was wearing a tragic purple and grey sweater, tapered leg jeans that had faded from black to grey somewhere around 1991, and black original Reebok aerobic shoes.

*All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


John Tesh is from Raleigh.

...and you can go to Helen Hunt for it.

May I have your attention please?


Attention, please.

If anyone is missing a pink lacy sock, you left it at the District Drive Park and Ride, hanging on the handicapped parking space sign by the shelter to the left.

That is all.

Thank you.

The Other Amy

We have another Amy on the 105. She gets on at the District Drive Park and Ride. She is tall, dark hair, glasses, seems neither too crazy nor too retarded. And she's way, WAY too perky for 7 AM. She's got a rather high pitched voice and she's, like, really friendly. In fact, Amy is just the kind of girl I believe to be, well, dumb. She gets on the bus and has to chirp "good morning!" to everyone. And Amy Number One just loves her. This morning, before Chirpy Amy could even get on the bus because the doors hadn't opened yet, Amy Number One starts yelling, "HI AMY. HAVE YOU WATCHED THE FIRM YET?" My hand to God, she shouted this like eight times this morning. Even after Chirpy Amy answered no. Amy Number One was in rare form today. She had a new book to scribble in. She added the hand clap to her repertoire. All of a sudden she'd clap her hands together just once, like she was trying to kill a fly or something. Out of the blue. Oh, and how could I forget. At one point, she just started laughing. Not like she found something funny, but like maniacal laughter. Like her evil plan was about to come together.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Where's the ladies room? I gotta 10-100.

I've been taking the bus to and from work everyday now since the beginning of January. I leave my house at 6:50 am and walk to the Chargrill (where else do you want to be at 6:50 am?). I wait with the assorted crazies, the resident murder of crows (how often do you get to say that?), and the flock of starlings (do they have a fancy name?). I get on the 105 between 7:00 and 7:08 am. I arrive at the TTA transfer center at 7:40 am. Like clockwork. Except today. The bus comes. It is packed full of people. Like a Where's Waldo drawing. I was almost tempted to look for the proverbial woman-with-the-cage-of-chickens. The 105 stops at nearly every stop this morning to let people off. We finally arrive at the Transfer Center at 7:48. Three minutes after ALL of the other buses had departed. When I asked the driver if the other buses had really gone, Jerky McBusdriver advised me that it was not his fault and that I should have left earlier. Nooooo. You, sir, should have left earlier. I then go inside and speak to the customer service monkey at the ticket counter. She advises me that there's nothing she can do about it "from here." Sadly, this set the tone for the rest of my day.

However I did learn that "10-100" is bus driver code for "I gotta hit the head." They tell the dispatcher when they are arriving on the platform in RTP. Sometimes they'd say 10-100 at the end of what they have to say. Now I know what it means.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Grandpa was a bus driver. And still is.

The TTA drivers all switched their routes recently. They apparently get to pick what routes they want to drive. Fair enough. Except I got Grandpa. He's driving both the morning and evening 105 routes. He is this hunched over, shriveled prune of a man. Simmer down. I don't think everyone over the age of sixty should have their license revoked and be committed to a home. However, this man doesn't exactly have the cat-like reflexes I prefer in my bus drivers. Seriously, he sort of pulls over into the other lane and looks only after he's started moving. He nearly hit I don't know how many cars in the morning AND the evening.

It was raining the other day. He was driving. He didn't start the stopping process when, say, a younger, more sprightly driver would have. The bus started to fishtail. Ever been on a gazillion ton city bus when the back end decides to move in a different direction than the front? Words fail me. Okay, maybe not. Terrifying.

It's crazy. Nice guy, though.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Where will you be in nineteen years and seven months?

Me? I'll be on the bus. The Number 2, in fact. Headed to North Hills Mall.

Is that like having a dream and seeing your own gravestone?

It was difficult to get a good picture of the rolling LED marquis. I'm sure everyone thought I was nuts. That's okay, because they are all nuts. The city just rolled out the new buses. I have to say, they are kinda cool. The seats in the back are "upstairs." You go up a couple steps to get to the back. And the funniest part...they all have that new car smell. Seriously. Normally, I hate that smell. However, in this case, it means they don't yet smell like BO. Anyway, I think someone needs to adjust the date on the signs. Oddly enough, today is daylight savings something day. Spring forward day, or whatever it's called. The time was right. The date was a little off though.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hi Amy.

I've come to notice that there are quite a few of "special" people who ride the buses. I really do love how public transportation can give anyone a sense of independence. There's one woman in particular who rides my first morning bus nearly everyday. She's probably somewhere around my age, give or take five years. She has dark brown hair which she apparently gets colored. Without it, she has a fair amount of grey. She wears glasses. They look very much like old lady glasses, with the kind of lenses that magnify her eyes. When it rains, she puts on a plastic bonnet normally worn by women 25 years her senior. She always has to sit in the second row, opposite the driver, in the seat by the window. Normally the row in front of her is empty.

Last summer, I found out why.

At the time I had shoulder length hair. On this day, it was pulled back into a ponytail. I'd had a migraine for nearly two weeks by this particular morning, so needless to say, I wasn't in the best of spirits. I got on the bus, swiped my card and sat down in the empty seat, the first row. The bus drives off and I mind my own business. About 3 miles later, on Blueridge Road, I hear someone behind me talking loud.

"Hey. What's your name?"


"What's your name?"

This goes on for a few minutes. Why would I possibly think I am being addressed here, since the WHOLE bus is behind me?

Finally, I hear, "Hey. What's your name?" in a rather annoyed tone of voice at the same time as someone yanks on my ponytail. Hard. I was ready to hit whomever it was that just did this. I turn around. She's got her head cocked to the side, her magnified eyes blinking at me. She's smiling. All I could say was, "Please don't pull my hair." I don't want to be known as the person who punched the retarded girl on the bus. Because that's not cool.

A couple weeks later, I am sitting in the row opposite her. I hear, "Hi Amy." Again, how am I supposed to know I am being addressed? Because, ya know, my name's not Amy. "Hi Amy." Again, this goes on. I look over at her. She's talking to me. "Hi Amy." "Hello," I replied.

She always has a pen and word search book with her. I got a look once at the book, and it's mostly scribbles. Not like doodling, but it's like she's crossing out the same thing over and over. She sounds out the letters she sees, trying to make words out of them. She'll yell out a "word" and bob her head back. "KERFAP" and the head goes back. "RASAF," and the head goes back again. She'll only sound out a couple "words" per trip, but it's a near daily occurrence. Keep in mind there is a big sign on the TTA buses that says, "No eating, drinking, profanity, or smoking." She must have had some combination of F C K, F U K, whatever, because she yells out "FUCK," head bobs back. I swear the bus driver nearly wrecked. He looks back in the mirror. She carried on, yelling this out a couple times, scribbling in her note book. The bus driver is just shaking his head. It was awesome.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I moved recently a little closer to downtown. It really doesn't make sense for me to do a lot of driving with where I live. I have a snazzy new bike. Within a few blocks, I can get on just about any bus I need to go almost anywhere in the Triangle. I am really enjoying my commute to work. It takes a little longer, maybe 15 minutes of so, but I get a lot of extra time to read or knit or listen to music. On the bus, I am surrounded by weirdness (about which I will report here). I also feel like I'm doing some good for the environment by cutting down on my fuel consumption. I've recently been inspired by others who are trying to make similar sacrifices, cutting down on plastic, recycling as much as possible, biking more, etc. I have found it quite easy to live without driving. At first, I thought I'd allow myself to drive once a week. I don't even need that. I can walk to one grocery and ride the bus to the other. I can still get to the yarn stores. There's one place I can't seem to get to, but I'm working on it. In short, I'm really enjoying this.

I am really surprised by the reactions I'm getting though. For example, I've also cut out plastic bags too. I went to Target the other day, with my own bags. The little girl tried to ring them up when I was checking out. She was really confused. She apparently also thought that meant that she could just toss my stuff at the end of the check out counter and move on to the next person. Another grocery check out girl rang me up for a couple of the green bags, then proceeded to bag my items in the plastic store bags. "Oh, did you want to use them, like, now?" That's the idea, Cookie. When I mention to folks that I take the bus, the usual reaction I get is, "what's wrong with your car?" Someone else thought I had epilepsy, yet another person suggested I had certain "legal" troubles. I'm not driving because I have a DWI or seizures. I'm doing my part. I remember seeing a Discovery Channel special on Antarctica and the scientists there studying the environment. The hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller. Smaller! What we're doing is actually working. Or maybe it's because the 80s are over and a lot less aerosol hairspray is being used. Who knows. The point is, that really affected me. That and a $64 monthly bus pass is a hell of a lot cheaper than three tanks of gas a month.

I certainly don't expect everyone to understand, but it works for me.