Tuesday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Monday, May 21, 2007 | ,

I took the bus for the first time since we moved to Detroit yesterday. I've always been skeptical of Detroit buses, I guess because everyone acts like there is no public transportation here so I just assumed the giant, hulking vehicles careening down Woodward Avenue didn't really exist, like ghost buses from a different era. Well today, I strapped on a proton pack and stepped aboard a 53 to head from Campus Martius up to New Center.

It turns out that riding buses here is even better than riding MUNI in San Francisco. In San Francisco I was usually stuck sitting next to some generic professional-type listening to his iPod. If I had the chance to eavesdrop on a cell phone conversation, it was usually pretty lame.

Today a large white girl with two scorpion tattoos on her neck sat down next to me. She was drinking one of those energy drinks that comes in a really tall can. Her overall scent seemed to have been made up of several strata of cigarette smoke and different types of inexpensive perfume. Then she answered her phone:

"I'm back, bitch! Yup, back already. . .Damn, I couldn't hack it out there! I am a CITY girl, man. . .No, I CANNOT adjust. . .you are not going to believe this shit: the gas station closed at eight o'clock!. . .What kind of a motherfucking gas station closes at eight o'clock?. . .I am a city girl and I need the streets to be OPEN and I need a fucking gas station. . .I roam these streets all night. . .Maybe if it'd been Inkster or somethin'. . .I was goin' crazy! I was calling all the time to see what's up withchu. . . Okay, so I'm having a party tonight. . .I'm a go to work now and see if I can hussle up a few dollars. . . You see what you can find. . .We gonna blow shit up tonight. . . . Alright. . . in-a-minute."

Apparently "in a minute" is the new "see you soon"? I like it. I think I'm going to start saying that. I also really like the idea that what defines a city girl is access to gas stations at all hours.

Until this girl boarded the bus, I was the only white person on it. And she chose to sit next to me, even though there were other empty seats, and even though we probably had nothing in common except for skin color. It's funny how people do that.

After my seat companion, my next favorite person on the bus was a chatty black man in his sixties. He was wearing a shirt depicting the actual bus we were riding -- a shirt that Dutch also owns. I knew it would make Dutch very happy to hear that non-young non-hipsters share his love of shirts that feature public transportation.

The driver of my bus was awesome. When three teenagers sprinted across Woodward to catch the bus, darting between the speeding cars and then jumping to the front of the line of people waiting to get on, the driver pulled to a stop and slowly rose to his feet. He walked over to the door and opened it himself, putting his hand up to the teenagers. "No," he said, "You clowns are not cutting in front of these folks." After letting everyone else board, the driver stood by the door and lectured the boys for at least five minutes on proper bus etiquette and respect for senior citizens. No one riding the bus minded the delay; instead, the previously loud bus quieted down (even the chatty bus-shirt man stopped talking) so that we could all try to listen to what the bus driver was saying.

I can't think of a profession that is more bad-ass than being a Detroit bus driver. I love this city. I'm taking the bus more often.