Wednesday, November 08, 2006

D-day, part II

I awoke Tuesday (divorce signing day) 100 miles away from city hall and lacking a car to get me there. (If you're asking yourself "Why?", here's the abridged version: T. is lending me the money to pay for my new car while I sell my old one, but he wasn't able to make the wire transfer before the cut-off time on Monday, leaving my new car hostage at the dealership for one more day. I was in the U.S., the divorce signing was in Mexico, and as a Mexican citizen I can't drive an American car south of the border, so I couldn't borrow his car. End of story.)

With no private means of transportation, I resorted to a four-hour trolley and bus ride. I've always loved the "people watching" aspect of public transportation, and Tuesday's assortment of trolley-riding misfits didn't dissapoint.

A man in his 40's with hairy ears boarded the trolley and sat down across from a woman reading an election handbook. He looked at her with a smug, triumphant expression on his face, and it was only then that I noticed the "I voted" sticker proudly adhered to his saggy puke-green polyester suit. Hairy had the look of a little boy whose teacher placed a gold sticker on his forhead for good behavior, and as he sat looking out the window, he was probably imagining how his electoral selections would change the face of state politics.

I left Hairy alone to his musings and focused on a boy of about sixteen, daredevilishly "riding" the trolley without holding on to the safety rails. A mop of black hair sat atop his head and a dark peach fuzz adorned his upper lip. He was obviously very proud of this sign of impending manhood, and I grimaced as I thought of the faux pas we make as adolescents. Peach Fuzz was the stereotypical "geek", from his less-than-stellar attempt at a mustache to his white socks and black lace-up rubber soled shoes. He wore a white polo shirt buttoned all the way to his neck. Clinging to the boy like a marsupial to his mother was a backpack the size of a VW bug. Not only was the backpack strapped around his shoulders, but it was also secured by a chest strap AND a waist strap! His puny 90-lb. frame jerked back and forth as he struggled to remain balanced amidst the accelerations and decelerations of the trolley and the weight of his backpack. His fists clenched, he stared straight ahead, determined to dominate the serpentine beast in whose belly he was travelling. Sci-fi, anyone???

Upon reaching the transit center, I exited the first trolley and boarded the one which would take me to the bus terminal. I sat down next to a window, and Hairy sat down next to me. He mumbled something in an ill-fated attempt at conversation, and when I said "Pardon?", shyness overtook him and he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

Thankful not to have to carry on a conversation with Hairy, I turned my attention to a most lively character. The gentleman in question was about seventy years old and he wore shocking shiny red sneakers. His blue jeans were cinched high on the waist by a black leather belt, and around his neck hung a necklace of large amber beads and an elaborate silver dragon the size of my hand. He had four dramatic silver rings on each hand, one on each digit except his thumbs. An unkept grey beard reached to his chest and his eyes were hidden by polarized John Lennon-type glasses. On his head perched a red baseball cap (surely chosen on purpose to match the sneakers) with a large marijuana leaf stiched on the front. The strangest thing about this man was that, although his choice of apparel and jewelry made him stand out, he was actually impecably groomed, as if he had worked on the outfit for a long time.

Then I realized someone might be watching me. What were they seeing? They were observing a 30-year old woman nervously clutching a Starbucks coffee cup in one hand. The way she picked at her cuticles betrayed her nervousness, although outwardly she might have seemed bored. They would see her fidgeting with her Virgin of the Pillar necklace and would erroneously assume she was religious. She appeared tired, a result of the nightmares that had repeatedly awoken her during the night. Looking at her, nobody would guess how life-altering her day would be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. It's amazing how much one can observe if one opens one's eyes.

I hope the rest of your day went as smoothly as the trolly ride.

4:48 PM  

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