Awkward Silences

March 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Don’t you just love those awkward silences?”

One of many quotable lines from the movie Pulp Fiction, but it gives me a lead-in to today’s subject matter.

When one works with the public, and takes public transportation, it is inevitable that paths cross. I deal with 200-500 people a night, most of them very nice. I nod and smile at people as I walk into work, and am frequently recognized on the bus. It’s no big deal. I don’t get swarmed like Britney Spears, and don’t get pelted with rotten tomatoes like Jack McClellan. I nod, smile and it’s over.

Most of the time.

Every now and then someone will get on the bus that I’ve had past problems with. We make eye contact, and look away. Sometimes they give me the stink eye. I shoot it right back. On a good day, that’s all that happens.

One old man, I call him Donald Rumsfeld because he looks like a homeless version, likes to insult me from the front seat. He doesn’t ride my usual routes, so it’s not a common occurrence, but if I see him about to board I brace for it. He will drop a couple of comments, and I ignore it. He shouldn’t have tried stealing that Baby Ruth candy bar. An elephant (and that fat guy) never forgets!

The silent treatment is preferable. A previously documented criminal-type got on the bus, looked around for someone to scam or panhandle, saw me, and slumped into his seat. He got off two stops later.

Another fellow got on the bus near my house the other day. I’d caught him shoplifting at Fred Meyer’s! I was doing a lunchtime shopping trip at the upscale Freddy’s in Northwest, and as I perused the aisles I saw this young man with a girl and a baby carriage. (Didn’t see or hear a baby.) As I followed, I saw him reach with lightning speed to grab a $15 pack of multi-vitamins. (?) He ‘checked on the baby’, looking back and saw me. He froze for a second, looked me in the eye. I looked away and kept on going. I’m not at work, dude. It’s not my job to keep you from stealing here.

But… I remember your ass, and you won’t be shopping where I work when I’m there!

My co-workers have similar experiences. Elmo has some good stories.

There’s an upside. I meet a lot of pretty young ladies at work, and some of them even ride the bus! Last night, on my way home, amongst the herd of riders getting on at the final downtown stop, was a couple I recognized. They’d been at the store when I was leaving, and the girl had been in earlier in the night. I remember her because of her steamy-hot librarian-assistant look, her crazy-cute Polish name and the colorful skirt which looked like it hosted two cats rassling in a bag. She busted me watching her walk down the beverage aisle. What the hell, I’m being paid to watch you shop, right?

She was with a quiet young man, who took the inside seat if front of me. She sat, then turned to me. “Hey, I know you. I’ve seen you at… ohh… MASTER P’S?” Her breath smelled of whiskey and cigarettes. (Which dusgusts me on men, but excites me on women. Go figure.)

“Yeah, I’ve been seen around there.”

“I only go there when you’re there. Done for the night?”

“Yup. I’m runnin’ away.”

“We’re debating, Hawthorne or Belmont for barhopping tonight?”

“Hawthorne. Start at 50th and work back…”

“We have a plan!” She turned her attention to the quiet boy next to her. She carried the conversation until their stop. As they left, she turned and pointed a witchy finger at me. “I’ll see you around!” She winked, and I thought I saw extra wiggle as that colorful skirt disembarked. Yum.

Like that Police song, I’ll be watching you…

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