Jason Porath

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Category: uncanny bus tales (page 2 of 2)

UBT Gaiden: Stroller Derby

Two mild oddities about the subway today:

1) As the train is halting at Hollywood and Vine, I see two people sprinting. One has a stroller in front of her, the other has a baby swaddled up in blankets in his arms. At first I assume that they are trying to catch the train, as they pass the stairs and the elevator. But they pass the first door of my train car… then the second… then the third… and keep going. People on the train turn and look at each other, wondering what they’re doing. I think they were seeing who could run faster with a baby in tow. Stroller derby, baby. 🙂

2) Near my last stop, three deaf girls get on the bus, and one sits down next to me. I take the aisle seat, as my stop is the next one, and I don’t want to climb over her. Bad idea. The other two girls stand on either side of me, and start a sign language shouting match with the seated girl. Hands are flying everywhere, grazing my face, almost knocking my headphones off. It was like being in the middle of a tornado — and I couldn’t help but sing to myself, you are standing in the eye of the storm / move an inch and you’ll be dead…

(bonus points to those who catch the reference — and Jeremy, you don’t count)

UBT 4

Man, my bus ride was fast today. Got up to Van Nuys in an hour flat. Usually takes me 1.5-2 hours. If the MTA was this reliable all the time, things would be better.

Anyways, another UBT from last week:

I get on the bus, scrunch my way to the back, and there’s this young black woman sitting in the back corner of the bus, talking on her cell phone. Except she’s got one of those Nextel walkie-talkie phones, and she’s got it on full bore. It’s eardrum-splittingly loud. I could hear it from outside the bus when I got off. Every little minute detail of her conversation was out there for the whole world to hear. Suffice to say, my iPod could avail me naught here.

Her conversation was apparently with one of her female friends (her “homegirl,” if you will — not my vernacular) about some guy named Reggie that she was trying to ditch, so she could try to get with someone else, or something. Well, halfway through the ride, as we get to one of the stops, she starts screaming into the phone, “THAT WAS REGGIE! HE’S GETTIN’ ON MY BUS!” and the girl on the other end responds by laughing demonically. So she hunkers down, trying to hide from Reggie. And continues her conversation, whispering into the Nextel. However, she never turns the volume down on the phone. So the beeps from the walkie-talkie and her friend’s replies are like the Voice of God on this otherwise fairly quiet bus. And she just keeps on whispering into the phone, trying to keep a low profile, while the phone itself might as well be shooting out lightning and summoning hellfire at the back of the bus. I wanted to see if Reggie would catch her cheatin’ ass, but I had to get off before I could see the conclusion of this drama.

UBT 3

I forgot one of the bus tales, which happened awhile back. I emailed Erin and my parents about it, so I’m going to just paste that email here:

So.

I get up at 5:30 every morning to get to work by 8, generally having enough time to get to the bus stop by 6:30. I got to the bus stop at 6:15 today, figured I was fine. The first bus was 15 minutes late. Okay, I can deal with that. Get on the train, everything is fine.

Then I get to the last leg of my trip, in the Valley, and everything goes to hell.

It starts with me stepping out to the North Hollywood bus station, and seeing my bus — number 426 — pull in and let people off.

“Oh good,” I think. “I’m right in time.”

I proceed to watch as the bus driver gets out and smokes for 30 minutes. They are allowed to take a 20-minute rest break every 4 hours of work. He just chose to do his in the middle of rush hour. You know, when everyone is trying to get to work on time.

After watching every single other bus for the entire terminal come and go (often twice), the 426 pulls up and we get on our way.

Two blocks later, the driver stops over to pick up a person in a wheelchair. This is his first time picking up someone in a wheelchair, so he breaks out the manual and makes sure he’s doing everything right.

Well, evidently the manual said nothing about parking too close to the curb, because the mechanism to lower the ramp for the wheelchair gets stuck, and the entire bus is trapped on the curb like a beached whale.

At first he just presses the same button for 5 minutes, trying to get it to work right.

Then he tells everyone to get to the other side of the bus, so we can try to tip it the other way, and get it off the curb.

Finally he has all of us (this is around 30 people, men, women, and children, half of whom don’t understand english) get off the bus and PUSH THE BUS OFF THE CURB. This thing had to have weighed around 5 tons. It wasn’t moving.

While all this is going on, the next 426 comes by and I get on that. As we’re driving off, he finally manages to get the ramp free, and the poor wheelchaired woman was able to get onto the bus.

I was a half hour late to work.

Gah.

Uncanny Bus Tales 2

Lot of UBTs for one day, but I did ride 7 separate bus lines today, so I guess it’s only natural…

1)I sit down on a bus I don’t normally ride and across the way from me are two Mexican teens, whom I take to be brother and sister. The girl is fairly pretty, boy is couple years younger and chubby. I glance over their way, trying to figure out their relationship, when the boy notices me doing so. Maybe he thinks I’m checking out his sister/girlfriend/whatever, so, in response, he starts licking her ear. Big, long licks, like on a giant lollipop. She starts giggling, and takes his arm and chomps into it. I just turn away and look forward for the rest of the ride.

2) I get on the subway, and 6 sorority girl-types (a little older; probably working women) get on board, in party dresses. They all have tall dixie cups in their hands, and are drinking what I take to be alcohol. At least, I hope it was, because I shudder to think that 6 perfectly sober people would hoot, holler, and shriek, pretending that the train was, in fact, a roller coaster. And these girls were -LOUD-. I was wearing my very expensive noise cancelling headphones, playing music, and I could hear them clear as day. I can sleep through fire alarms with those things on. I turned up the music to an almost painful volume, and closed my eyes, fantasizing of ways to kill these bitches. They even flirted with every guy who came in five feet of them. As I’m getting off the train, I catch one of their eyes, and I flip her off. She alerts her comrades, who all get very shocked, and start screaming obscenities as the train sent them careening towards Union Station.

3) …and as I get off the train, going up the stairs, I pass a girl with full face makeup. I think it was tiger makeup, but I didn’t want to stare. Maybe the circus is in town.

UBTs

I’m starting off what may be a regular type of entry: Uncanny Bus Tales. All of these happened in the past couple weeks.

1) I’m standing by the bus stop, when this homeless-looking lady wanders up to a young palm tree (knee-high), kneels beside, puts down her backpack, and takes out a handsaw. She then proceeds to methodically saw off every one of the palm tree’s leaves, stacking them neatly on the ground next to it. She then wanders off into a neighboring parking lot.

2) I’m getting off the subway, rushing up the stairs to get to my next bus, and I pass a Chris Farley lookalike, pissed off, in full clown getup, heading for the subway. Other people stopped and looked at him. I just kept going.

3) Waiting for one of my connecting rides, a bus drives by, but instead of saying where it’s going and the number of the bus, it alternates between “Call 911” and “Emergency.” Even the backplate alternated between “911” and “Call.” I looked after it, trying to figure out if it was being hijacked. It was full of pretty complacent passengers, many of whom were reading books — nobody was even standing. Nobody else on the street seemed to notice it.

4) I sit down on a bus that goes through the Hollywood/Highland area, and on to Van Nuys, when this gregarious 30ish black guy sits down next to me. He instantly starts talking as if he knows me, even offering up his hand and saying, “I’ve forgotten your name…” Hard to tell if he’s homeless, as he’s not terribly smelly, and his clothes are only slightly unkempt. Highlights of our nonstop half-hour conversation include:

  • Him asking me if I could get him a job where I work
  • Him asking me if I could get him an internship where I work
  • Him asking me if there are any black people where I work
  • An extensive (and incredibly well-informed) discussion of the movie industry, punctuated by the man seemingly knowing the box office receipts (domestic and foreign) of every movie released in the past 20 years, and claims that he has met many of the bigger Hollywood stars (Tom Cruise, Steve Soderbergh)
  • A three-minute digression on the “pleasures of the Orient,” in which he demonstrates a proclivity for Vietnamese whorehousesThose are the weirdest so far… will keep posting as they come…
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