I was thinking of the thorny bit of Poulenc I had just sight read for an auditioning DMA student when I got on the bus. At the main depot downtown, a couple entered and sat across from me. I don’t think that they were homeless, but they could pass for homeless in a pinch. As the familiar scent of tobacco and alcohol wafted across the aisle, the woman began the sort of monologue that make riding the bus worthwhile. It was an unflinchingly positive, stream of consciousness masterpiece.
“Don’t you worry, Ed. Don’t you worry. We’ll make it. We’ll make it there, Ed. We’ll make it just fine. See. That bus driver told me the truth. He didn’t lie. He said the bus would come pick us up here, and it did. So, don’t you worry. We’ll make it. You see that, Ed. That’s my church right there. That’s my church, Ed. Don’t you worry we’ll make it.”
Ed mumbled something in return, and she continued to reassure him. We made a few more turns and slowed to pick up a new passenger. As the bus slowed, Ed – who was walking rather awkwardly with a crutch – stoop and maneuvered his way up to the driver to ask a question.
The new passenger was an elderly woman with a walker. She got on the bus angry. She started with the driver saying, “I’ve been out here for an hour. I missed you before. I had to walk almost a mile to get to this stop. I just need to sit down.”
She began pushing her walker down the aisle only to find her path obstructed by Ed’s crutch. At this point she began repeatedly smashing her walker into the crutch until Ed removed the obstacle. She made it a little way down the aisle and sat across from me near Ed’s companion. Ed’s lady then turned to her and said, “He ain’t got no leg, you know!”
The old woman spoke quickly in an attempt at one upsmanship, “Well, I ain’t got…” At this point, she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to top mono-pedalism and her voice trailed off. With a valiant effort, she got her second wind and started into a monologue of her own.
“I just need to sit down. I’ve been out there for an hour and it’s cold. They dropped me by the police station and I walked all the way down here. I usually walk a lot every day, but not that far. I was just doing it to keep warm.”
Ed and his lady friend exited the bus, and the old woman now focused her attention on me. As she started her speech, I noticed a small globule of snot slyly inching its way forward from her cavernous left nostril. Seeing nothing to frighten it away, it waited cautiously near the entrance of its home idly sunning itself in one of the wrinkles of her upper lip.
“I’ve been out there for an hour. I had to walk all that way. Now I just can’t wait to get home. I want to go home and eat a bowl of soup. Yep. I broke down and bought a bowl of soup. I like soup, but what I really like are those sub sandwiches down at Firehouse Subs. Those sandwiches are delicious. That meat is so tender and juicy. They are the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I called the fire department and told them, ‘I just ate the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.’
They said, ‘Where?’ I said, ‘At your restaurant downtown!'”
At this point, I interrupted her. “Wait. Are you telling me that you called your local fire department to compliment them on a sandwich that you ate at Firehouse Subs?!”
She looked at me incredulously and said, “Yes! Have you ever tasted those sandwiches?! They’re delicious!”
Unfortunately, we had reached my stop. I took one last look at her lip and noticed that the globule had retreated back into its lair.