Friday, August 31, 2012

Hospital Blues

I got on the bus with my kids. I found two empty seats for them. I usually do a quick scan of the folks on the bus, I was a bit wary of the man sitting in the very back wearing a breathing mask on his face.

A seated elder woman said to me, “Ma’am, excuse me ma’am?” The woman was still dressed in her paper, two piece blue hospital outfit. “Do you have a quarter or some change, so I could get some coffee or something?” She sing-songed sweetly to me.

“Sorry, I just spent all my change paying the fare.” I mumbled and saw that around me a bunch of folks were covering their noses. I didn't smell her then, for me the smell was Baltimore bus, nothing unusual. 

The woman already had some change and she jiggled it in her palm. A clear garbage type bag in the seat next to her held a few things.

A man got on after me.
“Sir, excuse me sir. “Do you have a quarter or some change so I could get some coffee or something.” She held her hand out and the guy gave her some change.

She addressed everyone who got on the bus that way. Ma’am, miss, young man, sir. And when I sat down I smelled her. I imagined it was hard to shower in whatever situation it was that landed her in the hospital, white plastic id bracelet was still on her thin wrist.

The lady turned and serenaded a woman behind her, “Ma’am, ma’am, ma’am, can I get a quarter or something. Ma’am, ma’am.’ There were two women who were sitting next to each other and they both ignored her. I wanted to yell at the women. Just say something. 
 An annoyed woman in front of her told her to stop in an irritated voice. The woman did stop.
“You have enough change for coffee by now,” The woman spat at her.
“I need more money,” the elder said. The upset woman just shook her head in disgust.  She mumbled something about her smell. 

A man with sunglasses came in and the woman sang her blues song.

He said, “Why are you out of the hospital? How could they let you out?!  You need to go back to the hospital.” He dropped some change in her hand and moved to the back of the bus.

I was looking so forward to getting off the bus into some fresh air, the smell was an entity in itself. My eldest looked like the smell was getting to her.

“We’re almost there,” I reassured her. My youngest was distracted with a book and was trying to get her sister to read to her.

I told the bus driver, “There’s an elderly lady back there…..”
The bus drive did not let me finish, She yelled to the elder, “Hey Miss, Miss, this is your stop, Misss!”

We were walking down the block and looking back I saw the elder in her hospital blues standing outside the bus. She looked stiff and was going up folks, probably singing that same song.

I shared my feelings of sadness with my oldest daughter. I wondered what happened to that elder that she had no one to go to in such a vulnerable time. Why did the hospital just release her? I imagined her as someone's grandmother, mother. She didn't ask the same person for money twice, so she wasn't that out of it. What happened?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Fight

It was a really long wait for the bus. The little one was upset the bus was taking long. 
"It'll be here soon." I said in a cheery voice though I was seriously annoyed it was taking so long. I distracted us with word games.

The bus finally came and it was packed. I was so happy because it stopped right in front of us. The crowd trying to get on was thick. Though the bus was full there was a seat right up front, and I thanked all my lucky stars. I put my grocery bag on the floor and held my child on my lap. My oldest found a seat in the back of the bus and proceeded to read her book.

I chatted with a woman standing in front of me about tourism in NYC. I started hearing a woman cursing. Her curses got louder and when I really paid attention it was a woman with a baby on her lap. She was cursing out someone she claimed didn't say 'excuse me' to her as she went passed her and her open stroller in the aisle.
The one who was getting cursed out said, she had apologized already. The angry woman didn't accept her apology and repeated how she was going to beat the %$## out of her and mess her the *&#^$# up in the filthiest, loudest language. It was so bad that  even the thugs were like 'whoa'.

My little one was reading her book and didn't notice. People were just shaking their heads and staring. A man with a cast on his foot said she had run over his hurt foot with her stroller and didn't say excuse me. The tension was so thick.

The young woman who was soon to be beat up ran out of the backdoor with her friend while the bus was idle. They TRIED to get away at the last minute. The angry young woman dumped her baby where she was sitting and sprinted, amazingly leaped over the person next to her like she was doing the 100 yard hurdle in the Olympics. She zoomed out of the bus and proceeded to pummel the other woman. I did not look. The bus driver did nothing. My kid picked up on it and was crying. People were watching them out the window like it was a pay per view boxing match.
I yelled to my oldest not to look at the fight. The bus driver did not move the bus. The woman's baby was screeching. I felt so sad for the baby. How could she just drop him like that? I had to deal with my kid who was upset.

The angry woman strutted back on the bus without her wig on and without a shirt on! She didn't seem to care. Someone threw her wig back into the bus and finally the bus driver closed the door and pulled off. The angry woman told her screaming child to 'shut the f up!'

People were mumbling and shaking their heads in disbelief. I felt so upset. I felt so sad.  I had to reassure my kid that it was going to be alright. Meanwhile the angry woman was still cursing and talking mess. A woman actually affirmed her by giving her a high five!? She was so righteous in her anger, proud of what she had just done.

I was wondering why the bus driver didn't call the cops or say anything. I didn't say anything. As we walked home the youngest was upset. I told her it was fine to be upset because we were in an upsetting situation. We talked about the fight. The oldest said she passed the angry woman on her way to the back of the bus and had said 'excuse me' really loudly.  I knew my child would be fine. We talked about her feelings, we talked about anger and what anger does.

But what about that baby? That crying baby whose mama just dropped him....he stayed with me for a while after this. His cries, his little pained face, her telling him to shut the f up because he was upset. My heart hurt for him. How could she just drop him like he didn't matter?