I thought I was invisible, and I was satisfied with that. I’ve been spending my mornings sleeping on the bus, and then once in the city, I will switch buses and make up stories about the other passengers in my head. But this morning, my invisibility wore off, and a man continued to run his mouth about me until a seat opened up next to him. I had no choice but to sit due to the overcrowded aisle-way and my proximity to the empty seat. He seemed harmless, just a loud-mouth middle-aged lonely man, so I sat down next to him and thanked him for the seat. He began asking me questions about my sweater, and then he grabbed my arm and asked me if I needed a man. I slowly, but firmly removed his hand from my arm and assured him that I indeed, had a man. I really hope lying is acceptable in some circumstances, because this worked. He had respect for my non-existent boyfriend, and continued our conversation while respecting my personal space. He asked me if my man took care of me, and I said yes.
“Do he pay your bills?”
“No. I pay my bills.”
“What?! He need to pay your light bill or somethin’! If you ain’t happy at any point in this relationship, you just snap your fingers and tell him how it goin’ be. Girl, you just snap your fingers.”
I laughed at this. I could just imagine me snapping my fingers at some guy, telling him to take care of me and this is how it’s going to be or I’m done. Do people really do that? Does that work? Because, I’ll tell you what, that would be really nice if someone wanted to pay my bills for me! Then he asked,
“Do you cook for him?”
“Sometimes, you know not every night.” I was totally getting into this story, and this guy was almost cheering for my relationship.
“That’s good. Sometimes is good.”
Then, this nerdy man got out of his seat and said to me, “Miss, you can have my seat if you want it.” It was across the aisle from the man I was talking to, and would have allowed me to sit away from him.
“I’m okay, thank you.”
Well, this completely pissed off my chatty friend, and he started yelling at Nerdman.
“Man, get off the bus! You don’t like her talking to a black man? You jealous cause she ain’t talking to you?” He turned to me, “Girl, you know you can sit over there if you want to, right?”
I looked up at the nerdy man and said, “Yes, I know. I’m fine where I am.”
“See? She’s fine right here. Man, get off the bus.”
I felt embarrassed for them both, making a scene on the bus, and I let my eyes wander over the other people around me. No one looked up. It made me wonder…what if this man had been bothering me? What if I couldn’t take care of myself in this situation? Would any of them have stood up besides the nerdy white man? A big, strong, latino man sat next to me this entire time and never even looked up! It just goes to show that human nature is brought out in a person before the preconceived stereotypes of race. The chatty black man was harmless, the nerdy white man was nervous for me, the big latino man did nothing, and everyone else ignored the whole thing because they didn’t want to get involved. I silently thanked Nerdman for stepping up even though there was not a problem, because if there had been, he was the only one with balls. But at the same time I wonder why he felt the need to help me…because I’m a woman and a man was in my space…or because the man in my space happened to be black? I guess I’ll never know, but tomorrow, I will try to get my timing right for my favorite bus driver…he looks out for everyone on the bus, no matter what they look like.
And I kind of have a crush on him.
I wonder if he would pay my bills…