When I moved in with Brian, to a house on the fringes of the outskirts of Boston, I knew there would be some adjustments to be made. For example, I can no longer end an argument by yelling, “Whatever, I’m going home!”, slamming the door and stomping into the night. I can say, “Whatever, I’m going to my room!” but that makes me feel like an angry teenager. And then he might not let me borrow the car.
The car. That’s another change. If you are normal and you live where I live now, you depend on a car to get you where you need to go, as the nearest sweet, sweet T station is half an hour away. The local town square is well equipped to handle my everyday funeral parlor, toy store and soccer supply needs, but I need to drive fifteen minutes to find groceries.
Do I have a car, to get those groceries? I do not. I take the bus. However, where buses are involved, most of my time is spent standing wistfully on the curb, gazing at the horizon, and willing every vehicle that drives past me to turn into a bus.
The song in my head goes something like this: “Be a bus!/ Not a bus!/ Be a bus!/ Not a bus,” with an occasional chorus of “You’re a bus!/ But you are the wrong bus.” Singing that song in my head for longer than twenty minutes in frigid winds leaves me feeling slightly murderous.
Now and then, a bus passes me with a sign on it that says ‘Out of Service’. This also infuriates me, for several reasons. One, I can’t tell if that bus is my bus or not. And if it IS my bus, I’d really rather be riding it than watching it pass me, particularly in the brutal cold of an early winter in Boston. Frankly, I feel that if a bus can pass me, it can damn well pick me up and bus me around until I can feel my face again. In fact, unless a bus is clearly on fire, or there is a rampaging bear inside the bus, or a giant attack squid on is top of the bus with its tentacles wrapped over the windows, a bus should be in service.
Now that I think about it, every single bus I have ever seen that had an ‘Out of Service’ sign on it has looked perfectly fine to me. What exactly is the problem, I would like to know? How come the bus drivers who pass me with those signs always seem to avoid my eyes? Are their buses really broken? Or do they just kind of want to take it easy for a few stops and relax? I can sympathize with that desire, but somewhat less so when I am wedged against a building to stay out of the wind, passing the time by deciding which fingers the doctor should be able to save. I’d love to put on a hat with the words ‘Out of Service’ on it at MY job, which would enable me to breeze past anyone asking me to make photocopies, while whistling and pointing at my hat. I can’t do that. Maybe I am at the wrong job.
Or maybe I am at the right job, and just have the wrong hat. In any event, two can play at this game. Perhaps the next time my 7:39am bus arrives at 8:54am, I will board the bus and pull out my wallet, which will be taped shut with an ‘Out of Service’ sign on it, then shrug and ride for free. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Medford Square I wish
You had stores that I could use
Unlike ‘Pure Hockey’
Bus driver leans in
“Do you have a bus schedule?”
Yes he asked me that
A man scavenges our cans
In his new mazda