I forget why I was taking the embarrassing rough, tough and dirty form of public transportation that hot summer morning several years ago. My car might have been in the shop, or I might have been too damn high and paranoid to drive. I forget, but my shallow ass never forgot the gruesome sight that I beheld when I climbed into that bus. The driver was morbidly obese. He had massive folds of high caloric human curd spilling over his seat that just dangling only inches away from the floor. I’m telling you, the man was one pound away from a gurney. I remember the dark sweat stains that bled from his armpits. I remembered the disfigured arms protruding out of his tight lumpy blue uniform with bloated fingers bending over the steering wheel like they were baseball mittens. I didn’t mean to, but I flinched by his entire existence.
I also noticed that every passenger was huddled on top of the other in the farthest end of the bus. It was almost filled to capacity, but the front section was completely open. Clearly they were keeping their distance. I shrugged my shoulders and positioned myself in the open space. Apparently I wasn’t the only shallow hole on a mean one that day. All eyes were on me expectantly.
Suddenly I let out a very obnoxiously loud, “Goddamn, I said GODDAMN!” I reached to cover my mouth and nose. The putrid stench was all shades of human foulness mixed with body lotion and baby powder that was steaming in hot waves out of that man’s body.
The entire back of the bus blew up with deliberate laughter. Unity like this rarely happens in Los Angeles. I dove into the crowd and buried my face in my armpit to inhale my deodorant, so that I wouldn’t retch. What sucks the most about people with bad b.o. is that they make you doubt yourself for a split second—“Is it me?” I was not in the mood, so I went on a cruel tangent about smelly fat bus drivers. I wanted him to hear me, cuz that’s how I did it back then. Making that man feel bad made me feel good. The other passengers nodded in agreement.
OK, so let us fast forward to the present. Once again I find myself being forced to take the rough, tough and dirty, cuz they done took a bitch’s license to drive, can you believe that shit? I thought they were kiddin’. Anyway, the shuttle doors fly open and there he is, the very same bus driver that I encountered several years back. Clearly he has shed some pounds, but he’s still morbidly obese. He didn’t smell that I could tell, but I didn’t exactly take a good whiff—Um, let’s just say I’ve gone through some stuff and hurting people’s feelings to pass the time is not tops on my list these dayz (gulp). I doubt the man remembers me. I’m probably one of many who make cruel jokes at his expense on a daily basis. Still, my eyes never divert from my shoes while I dig into my pockets for some change.
So what happens? I’m standing before this man savagely patting myself down, only to produce a nickel and a dime (NO!). I feel my face turn into all shades of reddish hues. His head turns towards me, but I’m unable to meet his gaze. My impulse is to let myself out at the next stop without a word. Instead I give him a wavering sheepish smile and tell him something like, “Oh man, I think I’m gonna short change you today…”
“That’s OK sir. Don’t worry.” He responds in a very kind and delicate voice that did not match a man of his size. “You just go right ahead and have a seat. No worries.”
I could DIE! I almost wish he had thrown me out, so I could take comfort in a hateful resentment, but instead I find a seat and feel like that dark gruesome sticky gunk you find at the bottom of your shoe that may be a chunk of gum, or a blackened piece of dried up dog turd.
Ever have that happen to you? You gossip about someone, you judge him, and throw a shit cake in his face and in return he turns the other cheek and offers you a piece of warm humble pie? That’s been a reoccurring shame-ridden theme in my life lately. I’m sure I’m supposed to learn a lesson from moments like this, but WHAT that lesson is, beats the shit out of me. Smoking is bad for you? Don’t fuck with the DMV? Always carry extra change? Man, I don’t know. But I’m gonna work it out.