I have just finished eating dinner with friends in Koreatown. They are going for a round of after dinner drinks, but neither my pocketbook nor my feet (pesky platform boots were the WRONG thing to wear tonight) have any endurance remaining.
In addition to yummy food, the other nice thing about Koreatown is that I can hop on the M4 bus at 32nd Street. My feet will especially appreciate being dropped off right in front of the apartment building. Gently I coax my squished toes to walk one step at a time to the bus stop. Promising them that seated liberation is coming soon. I hobble around a stopped car with its hazards flashing and wait at the stop.
I look west and see a bus coming my way. Hurray! Two minutes until I am whisked Uptown. With delight, mostly because my feet are quite angry with me, I watch the bus approach. I pull out my Metrocard and as I look up the bus ZIPS by me towards Madison Avenue. Imagine my horror, so close, so ready, so poised to swipe and just like that, poof, the bus is gone. Because it’s after 10:00 pm on a Saturday, it’s anyone’s guess when the next bus will happen by. So I do, what any urban gal in transport crisis would do. I tuck my purse into my armpit and run after the bus. My feet scream curse words at me and I pound one foot after another against the concrete sidewalk. Luckily the goddesses favor me tonight and the bus gets stuck at the light waiting to turn left onto Madison.
Last year, my polite little inner Midwesterner would not have done this, but I want to go home and bang on the bus door. I wave my Metrocard, then point down the street. The driver KNOWS there was a stop and I cannot tell if he is amused or annoyed. But I don’t care. He is the THE ONE who drove right by me! Skeptically he opens the doors and I smile, I can be downright charming when it serves me. “Oh thank you!” I gush and flash a bigger smile and do the flirty girl head tilt. “I was waiting and you drove right by!” He makes a sad face and says, “I didn’t see you!” Well, okay. At least he is nice and letting me on the bus when he really didn’t have to.
The nice thing about boarding at the beginning of the route is I have my choice of seats. I pull out my book and settle in for what will be an hour commute home. In the mid-40s I notice we pass a stop where people are clearly waiting. I watch him and he seems to skip every third stop, whether people are waiting or not. I am grateful he let me on and hope he is not drunk.
Somewhere around the George Washington Bridge I hear loud Spanish being spoken. I keep reading but whoever is talking, amps up the volume. I finally look up, because this person is so distracting I’m tempted to shush him, and meet the eyes of a middle-aged man. Surely he is not speaking to me and look behind me. But the only people on the bus are Spanish Man, the driver and me. Spanish Man speaks again and I stare at him. “Habla Span-eesh?” he asks. I sigh and reply, “No. Sorry. I don’t speak Spanish.” Why I am apologizing? Spanish Man shrugs and gets off at the bus terminal. Now it’s the driver and me. Which is slightly creepy and I make a mental note to self to avoid this situation in the future.
“What stop?” the driver asks. ”Sorry?” I ask? “Where do you get off?” I move towards the front of the bus and say, “181.” “Good, I need to turn at 181. Is it okay if I leave you on the southeast rather than northeast corner?” “Uhm, okay,” I reply and resist the urge to point out there are three more stops along this route. “Where are you from?” the driver asks. I presume Minnesota is not the answer he is looking for and reply with, “My parents are from India.” “Oh that’s why you didn’t reply the other guy,” he says and turns onto 181. He stops the bus and stares at me before saying, “You’re really pretty."
Oh he is nice. My popularity with civil servants is on the rise this week. Yesterday a garbage man whistled at me. “Thanks,” I reply. I am actually having an AMAZING hair day. There is NO humidity and no strand of hair resisted me today. “No, really pretty,” he insists. I smile graciously and wonder why I don’t have this effect on desi dudes!!!