Monday, 15 June 2009

Curse This City: B-Line @ 2:30 p.m.

I could have taken the 22 right to my house but no. I can sneak on the B-Line for free – bless this city.

The back door opens and there're a dozen Asian children staring, slate-faced and blinking. I push through them to find a seat but the only one's in the middle of two fat peoples – a man and a woman. Plop between the two and the woman nudges over the best she can. Gives me a good-natured smile.

The man keeps his wide set thighs spread wide, well into my personal space. I consider asking him to please shift but the scowl on his face + the skull and flames bicep tattoo + the 100 or so scars criss-crossing up and down both arms indicate to me I better leave him be.

The bus is stuffy. The sun outside is beating hotter every-second and I'm already sticky from the heat. Naturally, the mass of human warmth improves nothing.

The children are yipping and screaming, crowding what little space there is on the back of the bus. Their voices are pre-pubescent and piercing. As people get off and more pile on at the next stop, the crowd shifts and swells until there're four small children pressed up against me. One little girl in a pink sweat suit is pressed against my knee, almost on top of it. This is awkward and unnerving.

"Excuse me," I say. "Little girl? Excuse me."

But she's saying something in Cantonese to her friend, speaking at a high volume over the cacophony. The doors open to let more people out and more people in.

The crowd shifts again and the little girl ends up between my legs. My anxiety swells and I try to push her back into the crowd – not too forcibly, of course – but she doesn't seem to notice. She doesn't seem to care that she's standing between the legs of an absolute stranger.

It's too much. I poke her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, can you please move over just a little bit?"

She nods, tries to move but the crowd is so dense that I can just barely squeeze my right knee around her. Now I'm sitting sideways, bunched in the fetal position with my hands locked between my thighs and the good-natured fat lady's. And the bus lurches ever onward. A bead of sweat drips from my bangs and slowly – so slowly – rides the bridge of my nose, down the bulb and hangs there for a few seconds. I can't wipe it away – the bus is too crowded. It finally drops and it lands on my lips. It takes like a saltine cracker.

Bottom Line: Three "Curse This City"'s means I may be a pessimist after all.

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