Sunday, March 22, 2009


BUS STORY # 125 (Kicking The Cat)


Among the throng waiting at the outbound Rapid Ride Station at San Mateo are an older, one-legged Native American in a wheelchair, a younger woman standing behind the chair with her hands on the handles, and a salt and pepper pair of older guys.

There’s a distance between the two pairs. The wheelchair is out almost to the curb right where the front doors should be when the bus stops. Salt and Pepper are sitting under the shelter on the bench.

Pepper has an oxygen tank in front of him and green tubing under his nose. He nods toward the guy in the wheelchair and tells Salt how the guy was run over twice. He was trying to crawl out of the street after the first time when the second car ran him over. Salt shakes his head.

Pepper explains he was drunk, and there ain’t no way around that. Man’d be better off if he’d been going to church than out on the street drinking. Salt nods, tells Pepper he’s got a point there, all right. Pepper ruminates on how we make our own beds.

A wave of folks from the northbound San Mateo reaches the station. Some walk on by, others stop for the transfer. A young guy walking quickly stops just past Salt, looks back, and says something I can’t hear. Neither can Salt, apparently. The kid walks up to Salt and says, “I axed you a question.” His face is furious.

Salt tells him he didn’t hear him.

“I said, what’re you lookin’ at?”

He’s clearly not feeling the inaugural love.

I can’t hear Salt’s reply, but it doesn’t do anything to pacify the kid. He tells Salt he’s in no mood to be messed with today. Pepper is watching the interaction closely. He’s not disengaging himself from the confrontation the way most of us would.

The kid starts to walk off, then returns.

“You a real registered one, ain’t you?”

Salt is clearly puzzled.

“Am I registered?” he asks. “You mean to vote?”

The kid just stares at him for a moment, then walks off muttering angrily.

Salt looks at Pepper as if for an explanation of what just happened.

“Just let it roll off,” Pepper advises him. “Just let it roll off.”

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