Back in 2011 I chose not to have a car as I could easily walk to work, walk to the store, walk downtown to the bead store...just walk. Sometimes a friend would drive me places if I needed it. For the most part it was walking and taking the bus. I liked it very much. Then my brother gave me Little Blue Car...sometimes I think he doesn't appreciate me very much...but it was paid for and it ran pretty well.
During the summer there are tourists who get on the bus to take the $2.00 tour (that's how much it is to take a ride on the bus) and ask locals questions about Juneau. Naturally there are the know-it-alls who go into painful detail about the "crows" that are native to Alaska. The locals giggle, or cringe. You can see the suffering each local goes through, plain as day on their faces, as they struggle with the urge to correct the out of town tour guide. Usually no one does. To be clear, those are RAVENS. When you come to Juneau, Alaska, just think Poe and you are all set. If you don't know who Poe is....OMG, seriously???
Well, there is this young man at work who didn't know what a chalk board was. Same young man didn't know what flaxen hair meant either....and thinking back on it, I think I'm kind of a bully and should apologize to that young man for not knowing these things because my mouth did open and unkind words fell out. I really adore this young man who wasn't offended by my mouth...so fortunate really. Yes, must bake him some cookies.
So, back to the bus. My Little Blue Car is currently out of service which has me riding the bus again and walking. Not much to say about the morning express bus. They are regulars who don't know how to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. Pretty sure I have built up a tolerance or some kind of anti-body against their uncouth sharing of deep lung bacteria, or my vitamins kick ass!
It's the evening bus home that is so very entertaining. (My hours have changed so I have to take the "regular" bus home after work and not the express. I've met Stinky Pot Boy, Rat Poop Girl, Sits Too Close, Mouth Breather, Must Have Hemorrhoids Lady, Cracky and Downer ( a couple who really are into each other), and let's not forget the bus driver Brakey McBrake. The driver IS very protective of his regulars (such as myself) and keeps his watchful eye out for anything suspicious. He will not hesitate to pull the bus over and remove anyone who poses discomfort to another passenger. Did I mention the bus driver is a very Big Man? Maybe I should call him Big Man McBrake? I think I will (usually I know the bus driver's names, however, I have not asked this one which I will do tomorrow). Aside from his gut wrenching, nausea inducing driving habits, he is truly a sweetie.
Tonight's adventure began when Big Man McBrake stopped the bus right in front of where I was standing so I could be first on the bus....so incredibly nice! Big smile to the Big Man, and I stumble back to an actual open seat. A family of 73 board after me (no joke here, two adults and the rest were small children. Every child was ADORABLE!) and proceed to fill up the front of the bus. The usual whoever get on the bus and then.............
................my new best friend, Steve.
I'm confident that had Steve sat next to someone else I would have affixed a nifty name to him and rode the bus in silence. Steve chose me.
She shyly shambled to the empty seat next to me and I said, "Please have a seat". It really bugs me that people stand when there is a perfectly good seat right next to them. Steve sits down and shares his cologne with me....can't quite figure out the name, but the aroma was pure booze and that sticky stank of marijuana. Strangely, his parfum was not so offensive as to make my eyes water (unlike Stinky Pot Boy).
The bus begins it's journey and Steve begins to speak.
At first it was difficult to understand, but after a few moments he made sense. It just so happens that my alien brothers decked me out with a translator chip in my brain before leaving me here on this planet to observe this animal called human. Steve began by asking me who my sport was. He then stated his sport was Green Bay. I laughed and replied that mine was Minnesota. This amused him a great deal, his face lit up and our conversation took off!
Steve found a great apartment that has (and I quote), "A little livingroom, a small kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom and the heats included for $450 a month". (Now if you live in a place like Juneau you would naturally ask what I asked) Me: "How did you manage that??" Steve giggles and says, "I've lived here a loooooooooooong time."
Steve receives SSI, and stated he only gets to splurge a little once a month so he chose today. I replied, "Well, you ARE a human being and need to have fun sometimes, right?" Oh boy! That comment delighted Steve to no end.
Steve is 53, he's religious when it suites him, feels strongly about Jesus though, has been with five women in his life, lost his first one to a train, and his penis still works. He doesn't smoke cigarettes, but he does take a little marijuana from time to time. He won't do anything else like heroin or "that other stuff". He only allows medical professionals to inject him with drugs when he needs them (he showed me his arm and the place he prefers they stick him). What a fabulous person! Introductions were made at this point as we had become very close after all of his sharing.
From an outside perspective, one could describe him as emaciated. I'm confident most people would have shied away from him. (Guess I should share my Apocalypse Theory sometime) He didn't have the shakes and was clean, which told me he wasn't lying when he said he only splurges a little every now and then. No teeth, no hair. His voice sounded like he had been yelling full blast and had that kind of hoarseness that comes after. It was obvious he had made some bad decisions in life and took the hardest road possible to get wherever he was now in life. I'd like to think he's a happy person generally since he really was very open and unafraid to befriend someone sitting next to him on the bus. Of course, this does happen here quite often....Alaska is so good that way.
Now that Steve and I had become such good friends, he had, at one point, become very fascinated with my hair. He liked the smell and said it was lovely and soft. He DID NOT take that further, but I still figured I would exit the bus before my normal stop because it just so happened that Steve was going to that very bus stop I would normally step off the bus at. He needed to pick up juice at the Fred Meyer. I needed to make sure this puppy didn't follow me home, nice guy or not. I worried I was being a little judgmental, but then thought of how I wanted to check out this bus stop regardless. It worked out either way.
I pull the stop cord and the bus rumbles to a stop and Big Man McBrake asks if I'm sure this is where I want to go and I say "Yes Sir". He smiles at me in the mirror.
I turn to Steve and say "This is my stop." Steve graciously stands to let me out. I turn to him and say, "Have a great evening, Steve". Steve smiles widely and says, "You too sweetheart".
As I'm stepping off the bus, I look at Big Man McBrake and holler "Thank you!" (You will find that here in Juneau MANY people holler Thank you as they exit the bus...it's courtesy to the driver who has brought you from there to here safely). Another big smile and off he goes.
Walking home, I ponder. Have I done a wonderful thing by treating Steve like a human being? Or has Steve done the wonderful thing by being a gentlemen and having an honest conversation? Will there ever be a time when we meet again and it just so happens that one of us needs the assistance of the other? You never know why you meet someone, but honestly it's not worth it to snub a person based on looks or smell or whatever it is that has you judging that book by it's cover.
Seriously...say you were minding your own business one day and suddenly fell into a very large vat of manure, rotting food and decomposing road kill, and then had the audacity to catch the next overly packed bus and your stop wasn't until the very last. Meanwhile, more and more people were getting on the bus and you KNOW you don't smell pretty and you are making small children cry, elders are passing out from the extensive methane fumes emanating from your clothing, that one lady with the big mouth is voicing her opinion of the injustice of your stench.....
.....I would still invite you to sit next to me so you wouldn't have to stand. No one knows your story, but I'll listen if you want to share......how the heck did you fall into that vat anyway?
Until next time.....Keep on Stitchin'...and all hail Steve!