Bring on the Boring, Will Ya? in Everyday Ramblings
- March 4, 2022, 2:25 p.m.
The South Waterfront area yesterday morning. Look at that big sky.
Today it is overcast. Nothing fancy; glare and clouds. It is dry though. We had quite the rainstorm Monday night and on Tuesday morning there were trees and power lines down on our big thoroughfare. The one I take to get to the grocery on the bus.
Of course, I didn’t know this. Nor did the young man waiting at the stop with me. There was no service alert, the buses were just not coming even though the Transit Tracker was saying they were. The guy waiting with me finally called a Lyft. I thought about going home but instead walked back about four stops into Downtown. I asked the driver when “my” bus stopped if he was going to the grocery, and he said he was.
They rerouted us this bizarre way, up over the big hill behind us, this is the way I walk, and I have never been that way in a vehicle. Because why would I? And we didn’t stop the whole way over. Came out one stop before the grocery. The lovely driver was a bit exasperated and said he hoped the re-route would be over shortly. He told me I would need to get off a few blocks further than my regular stop on the way back.
I shopped accordingly. Fewer and lighter things.
Here is where things got complicated. After my encounter with the Tourette’s Syndrome guy last week, I told myself I am going up a stop, where it is safer and there are more people. Except with the re-route, the bus was turning before that next stop. So that meant to get home either I needed to walk the 3.5 miles home with my groceries, call a Lyft myself, or wait at the regular bus stop with all the water bottle caps and… it was drizzling.
There was no one there. I was good to go but I had a somewhat long wait. I Googled the re-route and found out about the downed trees, pinged Kes, thought about reading my book and looked up and there was a man who I swear magically appeared pacing restlessly in front of me. At first, I thought he was on Meth, he had that energy, but he came near me, talked to himself with a blue plastic lighter in his hand. He looked at me and asked me if I knew when the bus was coming and said he had been waiting a long time.
He was someone with a home. He was clean and his clothes were kind of artist funky chic. He was thin, lanky but not drug thin, fidgety, and talking to himself. I told him in a normal voice when the bus was coming, we were re-routed and there would be no stops for a time. He had a thin black streak on his face, that could have been a tattoo, he had the I have been incarcerated feel. He didn’t seem to care about the re-route, but he did care that I had spoken to him and looked at him.
He wandered over the bench in the shelter and sat down and still fussing with his lighter, he wasn’t flicking it on or off, just moving it around in his hand he started talking about aliens.
They were here, they were making the cars dangerous, all the cars. This incantatory riff went on for a while, there was a bit about money, men being mean to women, how he didn’t like that (but this time I admit I was terrified as I did not know where this was going) but I stuck it out as I knew the bus was coming and I resolved at some point to make further contact. He was wearing a Buddhist mala (prayer beads) around his other wrist with a golden clasp. It was unusual. I asked him if he would tell me about it.
He got this sweet smile and pointed out to the cars and said it was there to protect us. He included me in that us. And then the bus came.
I got on and he followed me, he had a fare, and sat in the seat in front of me sideways. He kept pulling down his mask to talk less encumbered. He wasn’t talking loudly. But he was talking nonstop. Everyone on the bus was on high alert and dead silent. He went into riff about Allah and then again how he wasn’t gay, but he didn’t like men who were mean to women, and about the recent gun violence here, which has been much too present, more about money and then he mentioned class. Class?
Wait a minute? Class? It made me laugh. He was clearly very smart.
So, I asked him, and he got that smile again, that sweet inclusive smile. Meantime we are going over the hill with no stops. I was still terrified, but I was curious too. And I was stuck no matter what I thought.
We got to where the other driver said the stop would be. I rang the bell and stood up and turned towards the door. There was another fellow in the door well, so I half-turned and the young man looked at me and said, “Thank you for listening to me”.
I told him to take care of himself and got off the bus.
And came very close to bursting into tears.
Imagine for a moment what it is like to be a young Black male schizophrenic navigating the city on his own right now. Especially one that is not physically intimidating in stature.
I was so touched, it did kind of feel like an alien encounter. All the time when I was younger and living in predominately Black neighborhhods was helpful here.
We are such complicated creatures, and this is such a difficult time to be alive.
In case the aliens are listening, I would really enjoy a non-eventful trip to the grocery next time. Okay?
Last updated March 04, 2022
Dafnee ⋅ March 04, 2022
Oh waw, what a touching story! He was the lucky one who found you to listen to him!
woman in the moon ⋅ March 04, 2022
What an interesting life you are sharing with us. I'm sorry the bus thing is more difficult than usual.
My doctor's office is a pleasant place too. Not as good a view but still ok.
It would be good if that kid could get his life together. You were able to see good in him. I'm glad of that.
Jinn ⋅ March 05, 2022
What an adventure and I am so glad it turned out well. You just can’t predict how encounters like that will go. Manon is correct that most Schizophrenic people are not violent but some are ; I say that because I worked as a psych nurse and counselor for twenty years. Some people you can make too much eye contact with or the voices in their head tell them things about you , or they don’t like the sound of your voice . There are a multitude of reasons an encounter can go wrong. I was taking medications to a schizophrenic patient in the community once and she tried to push me down a flight of stairs when I turned my back to her. There was no warning at all. If I had not been holding the railing; my neck would have been broken. I had a large man attempt to “ shake the demons out “ of me and that was not fun. Another time I saw a schizophrenic patient ( a doctor no less ) cut her own throat . Another took a frame off the hospital wall and fractured a nurse’s skull with it. In a street setting the stimulus to a schizophrenic person must be overwhelming and that could spell trouble. I do not think I would wait at any bus stops with one I did not know.