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.

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