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Bus Tales


Theresa Allen

Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7:30 am, January, 1984. The northbound Nicollet Ave. bus, just south of Franklin.

I admit that I was half asleep myself. But the sight of this fellow, it couldn't have been a "waking dream." It was too strange to be an hallucination. January in Minneapolis is brutal. You can go for days and never see a high temperature above zero. This particular morning was one of those. This fellow didn't appear to be more than about 25 years old. He was wearing a tank, fruit-of-the-loom, cotton-ribbed T-shirt, cut-offs and tennis shoes sans laces. No socks, jacket, or even long pants. He reeked of Everclear. Just my luck that he would choose to sit next to me.

"You won't believe what I saw this morning on Hennepin Ave." He spoke directly to me, making eye contact, after some moments of ethanol vapor silence.

I didn't respond.

"I saw a MOOSE!" The veins in his face were pulsing at the surface of his waxy skin. "It was going toward the Federal Reserve Building! A MOOSE!"

I'll bet you did.


Minneapolis, Minnesota, 3:30 pm, October, 1987. The west bound University Ave. bus, downtown Minneapolis.

I was about to step off of the bus in front of Morton's Steak House when I spotted her. Actually, I almost stepped on her. Her slacks were bunched up down around her ankles. She was squatting and grunting.

It's all good. I'll wait until the next stop. Rushing these things can lead to the development of hemorrhoids.


Sacramento, California, 5:30 pm, August, 1993. The south bound Del Paso Light Rail at the Sacramento River.

"Alright you! I'm not going to tell you again. No sleeping on the train! This is your third warning! So, off with you! Go on! I'm throwing you off the train!"

A security officer rousted a rather young, shabbily dressed unfortunate who had slowly slid down into his seat, poured over into the adjacent seat and had nodded off. It was hot outside. I'm guessing that the temperature was just over 100 degrees. This might've been the only cool place for the poor fellow to catch some shut eye.

"I'll go tomorrow, I promise." Mumbled the drowsy fellow.


San Francisco, California, 6:30 pm, July, 1999. The west bound 22 Fillmore at Market.

"Oh shit! Who was that? Fes' up! Now! Hell, someone open up a friggin' window!"

"It wasn't me! If I'd have farted, I would have blown the roof off of this bus!"

"No, me either. My farts smell pretty."

"You want to bet?"


"What was you eatin' for lunch today? Road kill?" Dawg..."


San Francisco, California, 4:30 pm, August 1999. The west bound Fillmore near Rhode Island.

This happens all the time in San Francisco, and Seattle, where many of public transit's busses run on a combination of diesel and electricity. The busses have a set of couplers that extend upward from the back of the bus and connect to an electric cable overhead. The bus makes a turn a bit too sharply, or tree branches block the couplers from making contact with the cable, and the bus stops cold.

The bus stopped cold.

"Oh, what is it now?"

"Damn MUNI. I don't know why they even bother with printing a schedule. It's all friggin' fantasy."

"This is the third time today that I've been on a bus that's gone dead..."

"Everyone off the bus!" The driver, who didn't appear to be even 21 years of age, stood up and faced the irate passengers. One by one, the passengers got off of the bus, leaving with the bus driver a list of unique and graphically explicit adjectives. I was the last one to get off of the bus. I didn't say anything to the poor driver.

"So," he asked me. "Can you tell me how to fix this bus?"

What do I look like to you? Your mother? A MUNI driver? Why are you asking ME?


San Francisco, California, 8:30 pm, August, 2000. The "M San Francisco State University" train, MUNI subway at Montgomery.

The train is functioning, it is still in operation. But the lights in the train don't appear to be working. It is a crowded train. I fumble around in the dark for a place to stand until my knees go flush against a vacant seat. I can smell beer in the train, but this is a Friday night in San Francisco. To top it off, it was a warm day. I'll live. So, I sit down in the only vacant seat and immediately I am made privy to the reason why it is the only vacant seat in an otherwise crowded train. I plop my fanny into an ice cold puddle of beer.

A half an hour later, with my sweater wrapped around my waist to hide my damp secret, I arrive at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in Daly City. Luckily, I don't have to wait too long for the bus that I take down to Half Moon Bay and at this time of night, the bus is usually deserted. Fewer people who will be able to notice the smell...

"Hey sister," his speech was slurred and he appeared to look at me cross-eyed. "Got anymore of that juice to share with me?"


"C'mon, I can smell it. Don't be tight. Share with a brother."

Will this night ever come to an end?


Seattle, Washington, 2:30 pm, March, 2004. The north bound 15 to Ballard in downtown Seattle, across the street from the Pike Place Market.

"Yeah, got to love those ball players in Frisco."

"Yeah, love."

"That's where I'm from, you know. Frisco."

"Yeah, Frisco."

"You're drunker than I am. Next time, I'll ask for the transfers."

"Yeah, transfers."

"The 49ers. That's a good team. With the best damn quarterback in the whole world."

"Yeah, quarterback."

"Garcia, you know? Jerry Garcia."

"Yeah, Jerry."

Theresa Allen
July 2004

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