Back when I was a kid, Blogs were called 'imaginary friends' and were only slightly more pathetic.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Shits And Farts... Life On Oakland Public Transit

I think it's safe to say that I have not had good luck on public transport the last week or two.

But first some background...

The AC Transit 82 bus goes from downtown Oakland to Hayward, winding its way down International Blvd through some of the more 'colorful' parts of south Oakland and San Leandro. Now before you go accusing me of racism, by colorful, I mean 'ape-shit-fucking crazy' colorful and not 'seperate drinking fountain' colorful. Even though it's no longer Black History Month, I'd hate for anyone to think me prejudiced and surmise that my bad bus luck is somehow a Mark Fuhrman type situation.

Anyway, a week ago Thursday I'm taking the 10 minute 82 ride from San Leandro BART station to my apartment. You would think that such a short journey would eliminate the possibility of goofy public transit hijinks, but that's where you'd be wrong. Almost immediately, some guy comes and sits across from me and starts selling shit. Now this is not unusual. Be it our apartment's parking lot, the front door of a store, or urinal next to where you're trying to take a leak, it's pretty hard to go 5 minutes in Oakland without some energetic young go-getter approaching you and hawking knock-off cologne or a really cheap set of speakers. The wares that this guy was representing were slightly more terrifying however.

"Yo, cuz, check out these saws.", he says to a fellow passenger. By 'saws', of course, what he meant to say was 'machetes'. You know, those huge, sharp blades that people use to clear jungle brush and that Rwanda used to kill half of their population. Now of course, no one wants to purchase something without a little 'try before you buy', so within several seconds, most of the bus is brandishing huge fucking knives and commenting on how they probably shouldn't pay the guy his $20 asking price because they 'just got out of jail' or 'would probably end up using it to kill their old lady'. If it wasn't so surreal, I probably would've pissed my pants.

Thankfully, however, after a few minutes everyone agreed that their lives were just fine machete-less and returned the deadly weapons to their owner. And it would have been nice if all the 'fun' had ended there.

It didn't.

As the saw man was putting away his merchandise, a middle aged man sat a couple seats away and started shouting at me. Eventually I made out what he was asking.

"What kind of devil are you?!", he insisted on knowing.

"Uh... None I guess." was my puzzled reply.

"I can read your mind, and I want you to stop sexually harrassing that woman at the front of the bus with your thoughts, you white devil. I'm gonna fucking kill you if you don't stop it right now you son of a bitch!".

At this point, I just decided to ignore the imbalanced man and stare out the window. Unfortunately (although I suppose it was a nice gesture), one of my fellow passengers decided to come to my aid and shout down the crazy person.

"Why don't you leave that fucking white guy alone you crazy asshole!!"

Not exactly the kind of Dershowitz-level defense I was looking for. Instead of getting bored and moving on, the bat-shit crazy guy now had a cause to fight for and started to scream out all the reasons I deserved to die. I wasn't paying close attention, but most of them revolved around my inherent whiteness and my inate ability to sexually harrass elderly hispanic women with my mind.

Thankfully, we arrived at my stop and neither the nutty homicidal guy, my brave 'whitey protector' or anyone carrying a machete got off with me.

Fun over, right? I wish.

Yesterday, exactly one week later on virtually the same bus, I notice a woman walk past me toward the driver carrying what appears to be a broken AM radio that she's dragging by a long thread of yarn. It bounces along behind her as she makes her way to the front. Once she yells a couple of things in spanish to the driver (who clearly doesn't speak spanish), she starts her long stumble towards the back of the bus. Unfortunately, she makes it about 5 steps before tumbling head first right into me. Being blessed with a stocky, 6'8" build, she doesn't do any physical damage to me and I'm able to prop her up next to me without any bruises to show for it. But instead of saying 'excuse me', or 'thank you' or something even close to appropriate, she stands up, braces herself...

...and farts. Loudly. On me.

My stop came up soon enough and I was free again, but I can't help but wonder what next Thursday has in store. I take this bus Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Thursdays I get off a little earlier and wind up taking the bus in the afternoon which is when the real wackjobs are out in force.

I'll keep y'all posted.



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