Got on the bus in West Oakland with a pink-haired girl carrying an IKEA bag, yellow and blue. Once on the bus, I walk to the back, loaded down with a dress shirt, and a full backpack. “Look at that,” says a woman in a purple pullover reading a book to herself about a nearby woman’s grey, elaborate knitting. “It’s really beautiful.”
“I just admire people like you,” she says. The other woman holds up her creation for a moment in the admiring glow.
There’s a Pete’s Coffee disposable cup holder on the floor of the bus, cardboard, and a berry-red Phillies blunt package lies, semi-crumpled, underneath the two-toned blue, hard plastic seat across the way from me. I’m sitting back right.
The blue-marbled floor offers an extremely mundane background, like a dull ocean viewed from 2,000 feet above, white streaks, windblown whitecaps, moving in the light-blue surf, the water not deep enough for an unfathomable outer-space indigo, but bright, an uncomfortable light blue.
The bus is packed now after rolling through downtown heading south on Grand Ave. A woman, big belly pouring over her pants in a tan shirt reads “Living” magazine in the bus’s back left corner. A man in a black-and-white checkered scarf, the design you see on those weird jackets in the Midwest mainly is checking Facebook on his iPhone; I can see that now-nauseating blue peak in spurts from behind and to his right as he faces forward.
The back window of the bus is recessed like a deep-water sub, supplying a Life Aquatic feel to the drippy, late-fall, dark, dark evening. The engine, humming, runs like it’s been maintained by a sharp, easy-going mechanic, a cigarette dangling from his lips. There’s no smell.
The Facebook dude gets up and gives a look over this way as the bus passes the up-and-coming Grand Lake neighborhood stop. He’s wearing a plastic-like rain jacket, charcoal grey, carrying an Adidas bag, the bus sighing a hydraulic sigh as it dips to let more people on while he drops away from the bus’s back door.
Dude across from me is staring at his iPhone 4 that sports a lime-green plastic protective cover. The night is dark outside. It’s 6:28 p.m. “How long would it take to go from MacArthur to downtown?” asked a dreadlocked dude at the front of the bus to the bus driver moments before he got off and walked toward a purple-glowing Taco Bell in the Laurel District.