“I got a second chance today. Gonna change my life today!” He crowed loudly from the back of the city bus to nobody in particular. “I dun dropped outta high school, spent most of my 20s and 30s just getting fuuuucked up, but now I got my act together. Yessir. It’s a new beginning for me!”
My initial reaction to this stranger’s renaissance was joy. Positive energy and optimism like this, even if spurious, is rare on the # 3 City Bus. A welcome reprieve from the tweakers, freaks and internal chatter racking my brain on each ride: “Why the F is everything on this bus so STICKY!?”
Sadly, my mood quickly soured.
Goddamn it! Fuck! Not only did I finish high school, but I earned two more degrees and a series of certifications afterwards. I have been saving and investing wisely since I was 25. I have a freaking financial advisor! Yet, here I am, riding the same Vagrant’s Chariot as this deadbeat.
Truth is, while my employer considers remote working a “benefit”, I, like most Americans, have less rooms in my home than people. I thus rent a co-working space using my own money and take the bus to work since I don’t want to pay $25 bucks a day for parking. Isn’t it great when rich CEOs set company policy that makes sense for millionaires with 7-bedroom homes?
I was able to pull up and out of my anger spiral by reminding myself:
“No No, it’s ok, He can’t afford better transportation while I on the other hand, am being financially responsible by taking the bus.”
Back to neutral. Focused. Alert. Ready to send lots of emails, consult idiots, and do other people’s jobs for them. I was 4 stops away from pursuing my day with professionalism and pride.
Then I had a flashback to earlier this month when I spent a week visiting my wealthy uncle on the East Coast. My uncle may be the only sane person in his entire neighborhood.
One Saturday night I found some strange man trimming the poison ivy off the giant oak tree in my uncle’s yard. Both hands in my pockets (chrome knuckles draped around my left and gripping a taser in my right) I approached this creep. Turns out it was some neighbor who lives four houses down. A bizarro loser with nothing better to do. He is retired, his wife was out of town, he was bored to tears (no hobbies or friends apparently), decided to come do yardwork on a property that isn’t his. Likes the tree – he said. He was old enough, innocuous enough, and convincing enough that I opted against cracking his brain open or short-circuiting his pacemaker. I huddled with the only neighbor I do know the next day and the story checks out: He is indeed a lunatic, but a harmless one.
A few days later I foolishly commented on another elderly neighbor’s pet.
“Pardon me, is that a husky or a malamute?”
“It’s a husky. I got it cause of Covid. Our governor, our president… they are so terrible. I don’t even speak their names. They are like Voldemort! They drive me crazy. I just wanted to hear from so and so. And I was losing my mind. And I just had to find a distraction. I’ve had it with that whole party of fascists!”
“Was”? You were losing your mind? Holy shit! Who is this guy!? WTF are you talking about? The guy went off for a solid 5 minutes. I was stunned to the point of paralysis. Finally, I pointed toward my right and just walked away while he was still mid-conniption about some congressman I had never heard of.
My final day there the neighbor that lives catty corner to my uncle got into a screaming match with the garbage man. He accused the garbage man of denting his trash can and demanded to be reimbursed. I guess he views the rubbish receptacle as instrumental to the overall aesthetic of his $1.7M home.
This bus ride had me deep, deep in thought.
I am making sacrifices today so that I can quit the rat race ASAP. Riding the smelly bus with deadbeats who at the tender age of 40 have decided to finally apply themselves. The gentleman in front of me paid his fare in pesos. The person of unclear gender to my right is on his/her second Mountain Dew Code Red in the last 5 minutes – at 830 in the morning.
I sacrifice, but to what end? I spent last week amongst wealthy “successful” people who hate their lives and are complete lunatics. Will that be me one day? Is my current M.O completely wrong?
Then, out of nowhere, I was graced with a message from above. Bold and bright, a mixture of blue and pink. It put a sudden, merciful end to my soul searching.
the billboard said in size 10,000 font. Followed in much smaller text by: “Be aware, there has been a major outbreak across the city.”
Hahaha. Life could be a lot worse for sure. Fuck it! Why am I stressing so much? Stash some acorns away. Do your best to stay healthy. Be nice to people so you have some friends and family to keep you company when you’re older. That way you won’t end up doing pro bono landscaping or yelling at cable news from sun-up to sundown.
The emotional roller coaster I had just endured was even bumpier than the bus ride, but it ended on a high note. STD free and once again ready to seize the day, I pulled the cable requesting my stop and stood up with a smile on my face.
As the bus jerked to a halt, the bottle of Code Red launched forward 4 feet and soaked everyone on the right side of the bus. That and a concerned yell came from the back. “Wait, is this not the # 5 bus!?”
A bunch of red, sticky, losers. Better luck tomorrow, you jamokes!