Sunday, November 28, 2010

BUS STORY # 212 (Buddy, Can You Spare A Smoke?)

Whatcha got in there?, originally uploaded by busboy4.

There are three of us, all guys, up on the platform in the rear of the bus.

One guy is wearing a less-than-pristinely white T-shirt and pants. He’s sitting in the second seat of the last row on the driver’s side.

One guy is wearing a gray hoodie and a worn, dark gray baseball cap. He’s sitting on the driver side facing me across the aisle. He’s also holding a well-used skateboard. He looks lean and leathery, and about twenty years too old for that skateboard.

There’s a stop, and we’re joined by a woman who takes the far passenger side seat in the last row.

It’s while she’s putting the wallet back in her purse that the guy in white spots the cigarette pack. He asks her if she can spare a smoke. She doesn’t say anything, but she goes to the pack and pulls one out, then wordlessly hands it to him. He thanks her, then puts it between his thumb and forefinger and examines it, turning it this way and that, before tucking it behind his right ear.

A couple of stops later, a new guy gets on and joins us in the back, taking the first seat on the driver side bench, two seats up from skateboard guy. He’s got a gray T-shirt and yellow plaid Bermuda shorts.

A little while later, and the guy with the cigarette behind his ear pulls the cord and goes to stand by the back door.

The new guy spots the cigarette behind the ear and asks cigarette guy if he has an extra he could spare. Cigarette guy explains he only has the one, and that one only because someone gave it to him.

New guy holds up both hands and says it’s OK, he was just asking, and he certainly understands, no problem.

Skateboard guy reaches inside his hoodie and pulls out a cigarette. He hands it to the new guy.

The new guy thanks him, touches his heart with his two V-for-victory fingers, then touches the side of his forehead in a salute. Then he reaches out his hand.

“I’m Mac.”*

Skateboard guy reaches over and shakes.


“How come you’re ridin’ when you got that skateboard?”

“I only ride it downhill.”

Everybody chuckles. We’re all of us on the ride home from downtown -- one long climb toward the foothills.

*Real name changed.


Anonymous Brenda said...

Were there any facial expressions from the wallet lady who shared the first cigarette?

6:08 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Brenda, truth is, I don’t remember. What I remember is that she said nothing at all, just reached in, pulled out the cigarette, and handed it to the guy. My sense was she was not happy about being hit up.

8:57 PM  

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