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.