Monday, September 21, 2015

Nobody's Problem But Mine

I wait at the bus stop for the bus to appear.  Been waiting here a while.  Now it pulls up and I climb aboard with nobody’s problem but mine.  In the center, I take a seat, not far from the mid-section door, and out the window I stare.
Two teenage girls sit behind me.  One has a cheating boyfriend, the other’s supportive, but I surmise she’s the cheater’s new toy.  I don’t say a word.  I sit and I stare, pondering nobody’s problem but mine.
Two stops onward, a man gets off the bus, but he doesn’t do so quietly.  He shouts and he hollers about Jesus and fire, and makes a little girl cry.  No one tells him to stuff it and soon he’s gone, though not soon enough for some.  I say nothing, I don’t even look.  I think on nobody’s problem but mine.
We’re not far from my stop.  Three away, two away.  I’m nearly late, but not quite.  When I get there, I’ll see what matters to me—nobody’s problem but mine.
One stop away, the bus crawls to a halt, and its doors open for another man on the curb.  He staggers up the steps, lurching like a drunk, and doesn’t pay, swipe, or show a pass.  The bus driver demands that he pay or get off, though the driver’s let a few people on free already.  The man doesn’t pay, doesn’t leave, doesn’t sit.  He stands in the aisle, staring like me.
Now people are calling him to do something, to stop holding them up, and it seems this is a problem of mine.  We’re one stop away.  Can’t anything go right?  Just let me get where I’m going in peace.
The driver flicks a switch and the other riders groan as he gets out of his seat and approaches the man.  He touches his shoulder, asks him not to make things hard, and then the man turns and bites the driver’s hand.  The driver screams, the other passengers scream.  Only I sit and stare and wait.  Two burly riders get up.  They are bikers, and lovers, and they throw the biting man down and kick him.  He oozes over the floor, and sprays a gray-green dust, and then the bikers turn on the driver.  He’s been bit, they say, but we’re one stop away, and I see this bus is going nowhere.
I get out of my seat and hit the stop cord, out of habit mostly, I suppose.  Now I push open the mid-section door, the screams and crying I ignore, and walk the rest of the way to where I’m going.  The bus gets farther back with every step, full of somebody’s problem, not mine.  I’m a little perturbed—they’ve made me late to see her—but I can’t blame them.  She’s nobody’s problem but mine.

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