The woman sitting in the bus shelter said something as I walked up, but I assumed she was either on her cell phone or just another lunatic. It didn’t become any clearer as we waited for the bus because she didn’t say anything else that I could hear, but it’s not like I sat next to her. When the 22 Fillmore rolled up I tried to indicate by my stance that she should board first but she stayed seated until I began to climb on, then followed. I sat in the back, slumped against the window and she sat several seats up next to someone.

After a couple stops she hurried the the last seat on the opposite side of the bus and I swear I heard her whisper to herself, “I shouldn’t have done that.” I watched the person she had been sitting next to for some indication that they had been molested in some way but no evidence suggested that anything had taken place. I concentrated on the scenery’s passage through the window.

The woman made a call, explaining that she thought she would have been called back after lunch. By the clock periodically flashing the time up front it was a little early for lunch and she apologized for misunderstanding. She continued to talk, about how her sister had just buried someone and she had just buried her son, the same day, and how she needed a little help. The bus stopped at Fulton and a long line of seniors slowly dragged themselves up the steps and absorbed vacant seats.

See, how we do it is we have to have three funerals. That’s just how my family is, we have to have one here, one in Oklahoma and one in Mississippi. Because my mother can’t travel, so we have to have one there, and my sister can’t travel so I have to go out there. Well, I understand but I really need some help, and I don’t know what to do. Well, forty dollars is nice but what can I do with forty dollars. Maybe I could get a pair of shoes and a pair of stockings but… well, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be aggressive. No, I apologize about my tone. I’m just frustrated and I don’t know what to do.

Amongst the seniors sat a woman with large, black plastic sunglasses like you’d get from the optometrist’s after having your eyes dilated. She wore a large sun hat with artificial flowers in the brim and dressed a little too colorfully for a habitual bus rider. She kept saying, sit, no sit! Sit down. I couldn’t figure out who she was talking to. Behind me the woman was listening to someone, holding her interjections, and shuffling nervously. Well, I’m on my way to the dollar store so maybe I could get something there. Yes, I understand. So you’ll call me back after lunch? Okay, thank you.

I realized just before she disembarked that the woman in the sunglasses and hat had a dog with her. The two slowly descended the steps to O’Farrell with most of the seniors. Probably heading towards Kaiser; I know that the hill leading up to the hospital can be a bitch when you’re having trouble walking. It was a small dog I saw staring out the window. The next stop the woman behind me got off, headed for the dollar store. Five minutes later I was walking down Sacramento heading west, surrounded by towering apartment buildings and new cars and nannies walking other people’s kids down the sunny but cold sidewalks.

Picture of the 22 Fillmore by Flickr user Joe Huerta

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