(This true story first appeared at the splendid The twenty-something woman made a rookie mistake, standing within earshot of the old man in the flannel. She probably didn’t know, or maybe she enjoys gambling, but as soon as she planted her feet at the front of the #35, the clock was ticking. There weren’t many clicks before he spoke up. “What’s that in your glass?” he asks, pointing at her mason jar. She looked down as if to confirm her answer. “Chia milk.” “Chia Read more [...]

Karma Rides the 35

(This true story first appeared at the splendid Schadenfreude is the German word for taking pleasure in another person’s misfortune. I was guilty of that today. Every TriMet regular has their personal pet peeves about other riders, and mine is the two-seater, the person who sits in one and occupies a second with their belongings. These excessive occupations are sometimes legitimate — a student with an elaborate presentation, someone treating their office to several Read more [...]

The Unwelcome Rider

(This true story first appeared at the splendid The #35 was standing room only when two gentlemen, locked in conversation, boarded and stood in front of me at the front of the bus. The one closer to me had a messenger bag over his shoulder and as he adjusted it to accommodate the other standing riders, I saw a small spider clinging to the strap by his shoulder. I wanted to alert him about his tiny stowaway, but even at a safe distance, peoples’ reactions to spiders run Read more [...]

In Heat

(This true story first appeared at the splendid I’ve never seen him, but he’s clearly smitten with her. She’s one of our regulars, and it’s the first time I’ve seen her on the #35 with a boy in tow – his exuberant, minor-league groping invites “boy” as the descriptor despite them both looking like they’re in their twenties – and this afternoon anomaly coupled with his cartoonish inability to keep his hands to himself suggests he recently sampled the sweetness Read more [...]

Here’s My Card

(This true story first appeared at the wonderful I wear glasses . . . except I don’t actually wear my glasses. They fine tune my vision, but things within 10 feet are mostly clear without them, so I don’t wear them. What this means on the bus is that if I’m scanning to see if anyone I know is aboard, I have to focus for a second or two on each face, and that means I make a lot of eye contact. Being a friendly sort, this is fine with me, and usually, people I don’t Read more [...]

Here Comes a Regular

Imagine seeing someone 600 times and not saying hello. 600 times, often sitting close enough to hand them a pen without either of you having to stand up, that close for 20 minutes as a time, and still never saying hello. Does that seem weird? It does to me. I have good friends in my life who I haven’t seen 600 times, and yet perm lady, headphones guy, the woman with the boots – we have never said hello. 600 times is a loose estimate. Figuring four days a week, about 200 times a year for three Read more [...]

Speed Dating

I ride the bus every day, so I’ve witnessed plenty of folks making amorous advances toward fellow riders – but I had never seen anyone like this guy on the #35. He bounded onto the bus as if he had just arrived at his own birthday party, his confident smile lighting the way as he made eye contact with each woman on the bus while he looked for a seat. The seat he found was, as luck would have it, across the aisle from one of the loveliest women on the bus. His self-assurance was immediately on Read more [...]

So This is What Crazy Looks Like

I had been listening to an audio book called New Stories of the South, a 2005 anthology. I was three stories into the recording when I heard Clairvoyant by Ada Long, a tale that grabbed me by the lapels, pulled me close, and refused to let go. I could smell the carnival food, see the dim light of the main character’s trailer, and I was mesmerized by the central figure of the tale, the self-proclaimed “smallest man in the world.” His commentary focused on the people who paid fifty cents to see Read more [...]