Sunday, April 20, 2014

BUS STORY # 389 (Lost In Translation)

bus (downloaded from KIdentity) by busboy4
bus (downloaded from KIdentity).

I’m pretty sure my co-rider is talking to himself -- or to an imaginary someone. It’s hard to tell.

I see this on the street from time to time, but I can only recall one other time I’ve seen it on the bus. It wasn’t what he was saying that caught my attention that other time -- he was mouthing silently. It was his gestures. Ordinary gestures, like the ones we are thinking about when we describe a person as “talking with his hands.”

I remember that rider would intermittently catch himself and plunge both hands in his lap, but they wouldn’t stay there. Some other conversational point had to be made, and the hands would fly up and help make the point.

Today’s talker also catches my attention because he, too, is using his hands. But differently. He’s signing to himself.

Whatever he is saying, he is saying it over and over again, because the same signs repeat themselves. And they repeat themselves forcefully. He feels strongly about whatever he is saying.

Over time, I pick up a larger pattern: he signs emphatically and repetitively, then tilts his head back and stares at the ceiling, then pulls out a smart phone and scrolls, then puts it back in his pocket and begins signing again.

Maybe he’s rehearsing a response to something he’s received on his phone. Maybe whatever he’s read on his phone causes him to tilt his head back and ask “Why me?” before he deals with it.

Maybe he’s learning how to sign. Maybe he’s practicing today’s lesson, and the head tilt is a sign of how frustrating the learning is going.

After a while, he reaches down to the empty seat beside him and pulls up a bicycle helmet, which he puts on. Then he pulls the cord.

I watch him exit, take his bike off the rack, and ride off down the cross street. I wonder if he’s headed to a confrontation with whoever or whatever is on the other end of his phone, or perhaps to the pacifying distraction of work, or to signing class.

Or something else altogether.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I'd love to know. Nice photo!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you. I would like to know, too.

8:21 PM  

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