Riding the bus in Honolulu is Halloween every day, it’s trick (sometimes for real) or treat (most often not) but always interesting!
For example, where else would you see a nun sitting next to a guy who pissed himself, and continues to piss himself, all along the route. We all watched to see what would happen – on the bus, you always want to see what happens NEXT! So you stay awake and you will see all manner of a parade of characters, complete with the Scent Surround experience. Now, I understand, I am on the bus, too, and who knows what people think of me. But I have ridden the bus from the North Shore into Honolulu for four years now, and I have seen quite a slice of life.
Many of the riders are Asian, and they tend to keep their cool and rise above. However, once the bus arrives in downtown, anything is fair game. It becomes a spectator sport very fast. I try to keep an eye out for anything unusual. People urinating and even defecating on the sidewalk, not news. Someone proceeding to disrobe, completely, now that deserves a shout-out. I point and cry, “Look there!” and the normally taciturn Japanese will dart to the side of the bus where there is a clear view of the action, in the park, or sidewalk, wherever the performance is taking place. You will see things that have previously only existed in an alternate universe.
Once as I was strolling along during my lunch hour, a woman asked me if I had anything to eat. I handed her an energy bar from my purse. She then shoved her tubetop down around her waist, adjusted herself, and then took the bar. Oh! And to think that all this time, I have been struggling with the little plastic clippy thing that goes around the back of the bra and holds the straps together. I didn’t know you could just – fix them – really fast and no one would say anything. No one did. I looked around. No one reacted. Hmm. You learn something every day. I was becoming street smart; no more racerback bra clippies for me!
There are signs posted on the inside of the buses: “See something, say something.” Well, this is all very well and good, but a frequent bus rider knows that alerting the bus driver will effectively shut down the travel for a time and will also invite the presence of HPD and the bus supervisors. No, better to put up with the behavior if you can! I have actually bailed out of the bus several stops early and walked rather than become part of the uproar within.
Peer pressure is powerful persuasion (as is alliteration). Because of my Asian bus buddies’ examples, I have tried to be cool also, even when a crusty butt was looking directly at me. And occasionally winking. For an hour. The only time I can say that I really lost my poise was one morning when the bus was really crowded, and I had placed my Da Kine bag on the floor. The bus stopped, and something roiled down the floor, swamped the bottom of my bag, then retreated as the bus staggered forward. This mass of clumpy effusion looked suspiciously like hot chocolate, that is, it had elements of white mixed with brown. However, there was way too much of it, other than what my bag had absorbed.
I was in a bad mood anyway and really, this was too much. I whirled around and the most foul epithets issued from my mouth. Of course, no one claimed responsibility. Frozen in Southpark-like poses, the people in the back of the bus just stared at me. I try to keep my Irish temper under wraps, I do, but sometimes a person can be provoked beyond the realm of any self-control and sometimes even against a single, solitary iota of common sense.
During one lunch hour, I was seated in front of a sandwich shop on Alakea St. I was on the phone with my husband and we were having a heated discussion. After I disconnected (hung up on him), I noticed a sketchy-looking person sitting near the bus stop. He obviously had been listening in to my side of the phone conversation, and he proceeded to mock me. Mock me! I stared at him and then asked him if he was indeed addressing my person. He affirmed this and then added some curse words. I stood up and threw out some of my own. He approached me, feeling in his pockets for something, who knows what. Now, I am only five feet tall, but I have this theory about Chihuahuas.
A big dog will usually back down from a fight with a Chihuahua. The larger dog knows instinctively that it would certainly be able to kill the small dog, but a Chihuahua doesn’t stop to think. It will fight to the death and while this will inevitably be the outcome, the Chihuahua will somehow, in a miniscule but nevertheless painful fashion, f--- up the other dog in some way during the proceedings. So the small dog always goes into the battle with this plan in mind; most big dogs will think, it’s just not worth it.
During my verbal sparring with this person, he tried to grab my cellphone. I was too quick though. Then he grabbed my purse! No way, no way was he going to get my purse with all the hypoallergenic makeup (I am Irish, remember) in it. That shit is hard to find and also expensive. We fought silently over the purse; the strap sheared off but we fought on. I won. Empty-handed, the sketchy person fled. When I complained to the sandwich shop owner, she said that this person had been seen there quite often and suggested that today, maybe he had been “off his meds.” Off his meds! Well, I stated that maybe I hadn’t taken my Midol that morning either but that was still no excuse!
I visited the site not too long ago. The sandwich shop is gone but there is a plaque in the middle of the battle scene that warns about people loitering. The bus stop seating has been removed. Someone put a tiny statue of a Chihuahua in the grass. It is still there.