Bus is running late again, as usual, but I can’t help the feeling of anxiety raging through me like pyroclastic lava. After fifteen years, I should be used to its inconsistent schedule and being late to everything by now, but the “stay-at-home-on-a-Saturday-night-perpetually-rejected-geek” in me still holds dear to the hope that the day will come when he will get his.
Crossing the threshold of a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus is like crossing into another dimension; governed by its own laws or a lack thereof. Any seat on any given day is a front row seat to unbridled pandemonium, a menagerie of madness, a good ol’ all-American shit show. Somewhere inside each bus there should be warning signs that reads “You will get wet”, referring to the Russian roulette of urine you may or may not be sitting on. In short, riding on an MTA bus is like a mobile circus where the difference between the performers and the audience is blurred and almost negligible.
Expounding on this point, I’ve come across a wide array of people, some of whom wear all their crazy on their sleeve and others who hide it very well. I’m in the latter group. I’ve seen bearded ladies, one was just an old woman who happened to be growing a goatee potentially due to the hormones in her medications. The other was either a pre-op trans-gendered fellow or a dude in drag. If you’ve lived one day in LA you soon find out that people here like to let it all hang out, especially their ass. Whether it’s short shorts on young girls or butt cracks on the indigent. On one particular ride, I got an olfactory right cross to the nose as soon as I entered the bus-shaped sardine can. I soon found out where the smell of feces and urine was emanating from. It was coming from a young man, who had obvious mental problems, sitting with his bare ass hanging out, eating candy and spitting it out while simultaneously dropping all of the refuse near other patrons’ feet.
Sometimes troubadours will serenade the indifferent and indignant patrons who are hopelessly and wonderfully transfixed in the singularity of their smartphone. Like fervent church devotees during a Sunday morning service, row after row of people pivot their sight to a 45 degree angle and let the warm sterile glow of the screen bathe their face with light. The days of ocular flirtation often seen in movies are long gone. The only people looking at the moving landscape or at the other people are creeps like me.
I ride the bus on a daily basis and although its inconstant time table makes my blood boil, a sadistic and voyeuristic part of me can’t wait to take another ride on that bizarre wagon known as public transportation, full of weird and crazy people, of which I am one.