Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Memoirs of a Fresno Bus Patron

While most wake up groggy, dreading even the thought of sitting in an office all day.......I also wake up groggy, dreading even the thought of sitting in an office all day, BUT...there is some silver lining, some glimmer of hope that I will enjoy at least 30 minutes of my morning. I am proud to say I ride the bus to work every day (unless I have a very important responsibility that requires my immediate presence right after work; like my woodworking class). It is in this small time-frame, between the hours of 7 and 8, from the corners of Van Ness and Floradora to Shaw and Willow, that I find endless amounts of enjoyment.

The FAX bus system is not for the faint of heart. US city buses carry with them the stigma of being forced to ride mass transit because you are too poor to afford a car (excluding the large metropoleis like San Francisco or New York). This stigma is even more severe in Fresno because everyone has a car and it is almost impossible to get anywhere without one. Thus, FAX is left to service the homeless, meth-heads, crack-heads, destitute, indigent, mentally disabled, and the downright dirty. Throw a whole lot of crazy in the mix and you've got yourself a complete picture of Fresno mass transit. I have quickly learned to throw all assumptions of human behavior out the window while on the bus. It is because of this unexpectancy of the homo sapien that I get excited about my 30 minutes with these people every morning. The people I encounter on the bus embody the complete opposite of what we would view as a "normal." The following story is just one account of the typical FAX passenger.

The 28 arrives at the Manchester Transit Center at 7:30 am like clockwork. Amongst the confusion of dozens of transfers from one bus to another, I seem to always see one man through the thick cloud of baby-daddies and hoochie-mamas. Every day is just like the one before: he sprints to the bus--white bucket in tow--flashes his bus pass and stands next to the newspaper dispenser (about 4 feet inside the bus). He then takes from his bucket (which, although I described as white, is in actuality a collage of sewage green and poop brown splattered on the inside) one of those robotic snatcher arms that we all had when we were kids. (Perfect for annoying older brothers.) He then taps the glass of the newspaper dispenser a couple times, taps the ceiling a couple times, then speed walks to the middle of the bus, and stands even with the rear door. For the next 15 minutes, a medley of nervous ticks and obnoxious habits ensues. Any time the rear door opens, he must shoot a loogey out the door (and sometimes just right there on the floor); he taps not only the ceiling with his grabber, but also the hand-rail, chairs, his bucket, himself, his head, other passengers, really anything around him. Amidst all this tapping, he rearranges his stance and position on the bus a multitude of times and each movement is made with the grace of a teenage boy having sex for the first time. And if you listen closely, you may be able to hear faint grumblings and murmurs coming from this man's mouth.

The best is yet to come, for I have the unique pleasure to get off at the same stop as he does. We come to a halt and the man leaps from the bus to sprint to the crosswalk. It takes me a little longer to catch up with him because I have to retrieve my bike from the rack attached to the front of the bus, but no worries, Shaw/Willow is a major intersection so he must wait for a walking signal. And when I arrive next to him at the crosswalk I see why he was so eager to sprint over there. His robotic grabber miraculously turns into a baton which he stunningly tosses into the air with all the flair and shimmer of a high school twirler. As I wait there with him, he displays for me a whole routine of twirls, tosses, and tricks, all accompanied by a few marching steps. Maybe physically we are both standing next to a busy thoroughfare in Clovis, CA, but in his mind, he's the color guard leader and it's his football team's high school championship game. The grabber seems to always fall back into his hand just as the little walking figure lights up. And he's off! Another full-on sprint, past 6 lanes of cars. As he finishes his show, I zoom past him on my bike, and I leave the man behind only to see the same exact routine the next day, bucket, baton and all. What he uses his bucket and grabber for, I could not say. All I can be sure of is that tomorow I will have a front row seat to this spectacle of human behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Love it, Dave! Sounds like you've got some interesting stuff going on there. Can't wait to see you on the 21st.