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Adventures on Public Transportation, and Chatty Charles

**I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, so even though it’s written as if it happened today, it didn’t. I’ve been saving this post, and today seemed to be the day!

I take the bus to work now, not because I don’t have a car, not because we can’t afford gas, but because my employer pays for the bus pass and I get some (forced) reading time. It’s all about choices, right?

For background on this story, you must first read this post.

So today, these two kids get on who’ve had issues with the bus driver before because he won’t let them curse on the bus and they can’t seem to filter their mouths, and the driver has them sit up front. One kid grumbles, “What did I do yesterday?” And the bus driver says, “You kids don’t seem to understand my rule of no cursing on the bus. Therefore, this area,” the driver here gestures to the front area of the bus, up near where he sits, because all the teenagers sit in the back, “is where you will now be sitting. I don’t care if you’re big and bad with your friends, because as far as you’re concerned, on this bus, I’m the big bad wolf.”

Uh-huh. I snickered quietly to myself as I repeated, “Because as far as you’re concerned, on this bus, I’m the big bad wolf.” *snicker* I know those kids are making fun of that. Dave thinks this driver is weird and has some kind of complex, but I like him.

In the midst of all this, there was this guy on the bus who I noticed because he was very friendly. To everyone. I also noticed he works at a grocery store, as he has a uniform on and the name of the store is embroidered on his shirt. So this day, as I’m reading my book, the guy looks at me and says, “Do you like basketball?” “Yes,” I replied. “Well the Warriors just broke their 9 game winning streak last night. Biedrins had 27 points and 19 rebounds.” I went back to my book, because really, I don’t ride the bus to socialize. If I wanted to do that, I’d find someone to carpool with.

A few minutes later the guy gets my attention again.

“Have you been to the new Lucky’s?”

“No, I haven’t. Is that where you work?”

“Yes. It’s gotten rid of its card, and now you don’t have to have a special card to get what’s on sale. You just automatically get the sale price. Customers really like that.”

“Oh. Cool! Well, I’ll have to stop by there sometime.”

I quickly went back to my book, trying to make it obvious I’m not up for much chit chat in the mornings. Not A Morning Person should be emblazoned on my body. Alas, my signal must have been weak.

“Are you going to school?” He continues the conversation as if I’m a willing participant.

“No, I’m going to work.”

“Oh, okay.”

So as I got off the bus to catch my connecting bus that takes me to work, this guy (we’ll call him Chatty Charles, as I never did get his name) catches up to me and says, “Can I talk to you?” I quickly hold up my gloved hand, and despite the fact that he can’t see my ring, I say, “I’m married.” “Oh, I know. I just like talking to you.” “Uh, well, sure.” And at this point we part ways to catch our respective buses.

THE STORY’S NOT EVEN OVER.

So that afternoon, as I walk over to the bus that will take me home, who do I see waiting for the same bus? Yup. Chatty Charles. Here’s how our conversation went:

Chatty Charles: “Hi! I’m just getting off work.”

Me: “Oh.” I was reading walking up to the bus, and now I go back to reading.

“Did you work today, too?”

“Yup. Now I’m heading home.” I again go back to my book.

“What are you reading?”

The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller.”

“Oh, yeah.” He nods his head as if he’s read the book before.

“Have you read this book?”

“No, but I’ve heard it’s good.”

Mmhm.

I go back to my book again and I’m interrupted again when he says, “I like talking to you.” I look at him and smile but don’t say anything, because really, what should I say? So then he asks, “Do you like talking to me?”

WTF? Do I like talking to him? I was pretty sure he was a little off in the head before, but now I’ve got confirmation.

“Yeah, I like talking to you. But I like reading too.” I hold up my book as proof that I like to read.

And that was that. I saw him looking at me a couple of times on the bus, but he left me in peace to read…maybe he’s not off his rocker after all.

| Tags: , , , , 11 comments »

11 Responses to “Adventures on Public Transportation, and Chatty Charles”

  1. Wendy

    I have enjoyed your blog for some time now and this being the season for family and giving I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on your story. What I am about to say is true so it is not something I would makeup for these lines. I have no parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. The reason behind these losses are longer stories than any book could hold. I have one brother who I never see. I am 48 years old. But what I do have is a wonderful husband and three amazing children. I would hope that some day when I am on a bus or in long line that a nice stranger would like to take a few moments of my time to care about what I liked. It is such a small gesture to show kindness but a huge reward to give it. I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy reading:)

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  2. Kiki

    Hi Trish! I have several comments about your post and the previous one related to it.

    First of all, regarding the incredibly foul mouthed and racist comments made by those two children (who should definitely no better, regardless of their parents extreme ignorance)–I am not shocked. I currently live in Birmingham, Alabama in a book store, and there were several comments from customers including the n-word spoken by adults during the recent elections–comments like “You don’t mean to tell me you are voting for that n-word, do you?” during the campaign season–this happened more than once and was always a customer–the particular time I heard it, it was from a 70 something year old man. Another employee was berated in the same way by a 30-40 something well to do haus-frau for voting for someone who “wasn’t white”! I mean, how could you, was kind of her sentiment. Truly disgusting–I am ashamed for these people, and have no respect for them at all. Just goes to show the customer is not always right.

    Regarding people on buses–where I grew up (Long Island, NY) I often took the bus–and there are all kinds of people on the bus. I happened to be the young car-less kind–I rode the bus throughout my elementary school and into high school. Then, later when I had a job and no car. I have to say, there were often people with lower capacity iq’s that took the bus because they couldn’t drive and were lonely and other lonely types interested in just talk-talk-talking and harassing anyone who they could corner. I always found my Sony Walkman (yes, it was the 80’s) handy for this problem–you can do this without even listening to music! Just buy a pair of headphones and tuck the end into your pocket (ipodsmp3s are small!)–no one would know, and you could ignore them until they tapped you and then frown at them. Women are generally uncomfortable with people repeatedly approaching them on public transportation. It has happened to me on trains, airplanes and Greyhounds as well as the public transport buses on LI. Sure, life can be lonely, but consider how it must feel for unaccompanied women.
    to be so doggedly pusued.

    I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to talk to anybody on the bus. Especially if that is your alone downtime. I think you were friendly and kind.

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  3. ammo

    Well, Well, I must say “Yes it is that time of year for family, friends and giving of ones time” – (it should be all the time in my book) – I like to think of myself as a caring person in today’s world. Yet the mommy in me says “Do Not talk to strangers, especially when you are by yourself” – Because today’s world is not as safe as we all would like it to be. There are nuts out there that weed out the ones that are alone – With that said I am NOT saying NEVER say hi or smile at someone that is alone, but we must use are God given wisdom. NO guilt trip from me Trish – I say go with your gut. 🙂

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  4. Marg

    Ah the joys of public transport! I catch two trains to work, and have to deal with lots of things – loud and obnoxious people, others have arguments on their cellphones, overcrowding etc etc.

    Train time is my reading time as well, but I have also made friends with a group of ladies on the train on the way home, and it is always a highlight when I get to see them each day, have a chat and a laugh and then go our separate ways! Becoming friends with them has made my life better so even though there are days when I would rather be finishing my very exciting book, mostly I am happy to see them.

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  5. Jessica

    I like the sounds of this bus driver! When I was a kid, I had to ride the bus during the summer for Volleyball. The driver always made me sit up front and he would watch me the whole time. If anyone ever tried to sit next to me he would glare at them through that weird mirror and he would shake his head and grumble “that seats taken” unless it was a woman, a nice woman. Then he let them sit there next to me. I always dug that bus driver…

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  6. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

    Oh, the adventures of public transit! Things like that used to happen to me on the L in Chicago, even with iPod buds in my ears and a book pressed firmly to my nose. Some people just really don’t understand social cues. More recently, I got stuck next to a chatty Nascar fan on a plane, and he insisted on telling me all about Nascar despite my numerous attempts to ignore him and get back to my book. Hang in there!

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  7. donstuff

    I’d comment, but I’m trying to read.

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  8. lisamm

    I applaud you for being so kind. Many people would have told the guy to get lost. I like the earbud idea!

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  9. serena

    He sounds lonely. Probably lives alone and only sees people on the bus or at work. Poor guy, but I can understand your frustration. I would say there is something slightly off about him. This is how my brother acts sometimes, but most people know that he has a disability beforehand, though he doesn’t look like he has one. I suspect this may be the same boat this guy is in.

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  10. Samantha

    Interesting story and thanks for sharing! I hate when people interrupt me when I’m reading especially when I’m at a really good part. I also loved your grievances from you last post but sorry I’m lazy and am commenting about it here 🙂

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  11. Chelsea

    It’s stories like this that make me wish I had opportunity to ride the bus more often! There is a campus-wide bus system at my school, but lucky housing opportunities have guaranteed that I live within walking distance of everywhere I go! And as much as I wish I had mastered the art of reading and walking, it remains out of my all-too-clumsy grasp! Although, I do find it annoying when people ignore the all-too-obvious symbol that a book means I wish to be left alone!

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