Monday, April 19, 2010

Riding the bus in Dallas


This is a re-post from my old blog about taking the bus in Dallas. It's immensely difficult to take public transport down here unless you're just going downtown, because the system is not comprehensive so you can't get most places, and sometimes you easily wait an hour for the next bus. I'm glad, for those reasons, to no longer be at the mercy of the Dallas DART system, but I do miss the way public transport allows you to get to know people that I would never have met otherwise. I appreciate the relational side of it. So, here are some of the good and creepy folks I met in my Dallas bus days:

My first bus friend was a black man who works full time at Steak and Shake and full time at the Waffle House. He is a devout Jehovah’s Witness and he talks to his acquaintances too loudly from across the bus. He saved for months to buy a car, only to find that even what he’d saved was not enough to put a deposit on the used truck he wanted, and gas prices were rising. He stops at the gym by Steak and Shake every morning and works out before work.

My second friend was a dear Sudanese refugee woman from the city of Juba named Alice. She has been here for several years, and she makes jewelry and is paid hourly. She has a brilliant smile and we always greet each other excitedly when we ride the same bus. Last week she was so excited to show me her lottery scratch card which just won her $10. A few months ago our daily discussion was about her finger, which she had pinched in a car door and was loosing the nail. Last week we talked about life in America. She said, “Sometimes, this country is good… (long pause)…. But sometimes it is not so good. In Sudan if I am very sick I can go to the hospital and they help me. Here, if I don’t have money, I can’t go to the hospital or get medicine. That is not good”. I just love Alice.

A Ride Downtown

Then there’s Wiltson, a young man whose parents are French speaking Cameroonian immigrants, but he knows nothing but Dallas. He always wears smart business clothes and obviously is a very intelligent guy. He has a degree in physics, loves science fiction, and passionately researches the question of intelligent design. A discussion about a book he was reading let us to a discussion about intelligent design, which led to a discussion about church and faith backgrounds. The next time I saw him he'd visited my church (which I told him about), begun attending the singles group, and was SO excited to talk about the small group he was in. It was super cool to hear that, all from one conversation!

DART - Downtown Dallas

My most recent acquaintance (whose name I can’t remember) is a young guy from Egypt who calls London home and has only been here for a few weeks. He’s a bit of a hot-shot, and he asked me if I like to go clubbing. I said I didn’t really, because I wasn’t really raised in a drinking culture. He laughed at me and said, “Oh no, I don’t drink, I just like to go to the clubs!” He’s going through flight school here, and as soon as he realized that I knew a bit of London he waxed eloquent about the beauties of the city and how much there was to do there. Of course I agree with him whole-heartedly, and we commiserated at how uncity-like this city is, how difficult life is when using Dallas public transportation, and how lonely it is being new in that situation. He's a Muslim, but one who is looking for a mosque that will allow him to also believe that all religions essentially lead to God eventually.

Fred is my bus driver. He is very sweet and we always say hi and greet each other. He sometimes asks me questions that encourage me to sit right at the front and carry on a conversation with him, but the one time I did that he ended up preaching a 30 minute sermon to me and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. After that  I usually just gave one-word answers, smiled, and proceed to the back of the bus. Eventually I got over, it, though, and I ended up getting to know a little more about Fred. I'll tell you what, he is a talker, but he does have just the gentlest heart for people, and has such humility. The young black women on the bus all tell me they're incredibly disappointed that he's married.


Then there’s the young white guy about my age. He is the quintessential hick, and has the accent to match it. He has a goatee and hair all the way down his back. He only left Texas once, and he was too young to remember it. He married his high school sweetheart and divorced her within a couple of years. He alternates between saying that he wasn’t a very nice person and saying that his ex isn’t a very nice person. Now he’s trying to get his life together and pay for school so he can get a business degree and begin manufacturing products to use in space. He says he can’t believe no one is doing this yet, and he just knows that if he doesn’t do it someone else is going to do the same thing and make a lot of money off it and it’ll bother him for forever that he didn’t just follow-up on his idea. Hmm. I personally question his knowledge of products to be used in space, considering there’s this little thing called NASA with a massive budget, and people with a higher-then-highschool education working for them. I should give the guy a break – at least he wants a business degree, and that should help… uhh… refine his dreams?

Another friend is a short, rotund older white woman who always sits and chat with me and my friend the Jehovah's Witness. She always chatted with and lectured the various teens that ride our bus to Richardson Public Highschool, and eventually she told me she used to be an elementary teacher that taught a number of them, and she still keeps them in line. She is always smiling, always watching everyone like a hawk, and joins my Jehovah's Witness friend and I in conversations about God in the morning, so I knew she was a believer of some sort. That mystery was solved when Isaac and I visited a local Messianic Jewish service out of curiosity. it was a VERY cool experience over all. During a rousing Hebrew song in which the women and children swirled and danced in and around the congregation, I spotted my bus friend among the dancers, and she broke free of line and barrelled her way over to me and gave me a HUGE hug, telling me she just KNEW we shared our faith and she was SO excited to see me! She's super fun.

On the other hand, the bus had plenty of creepsters. Yesterday was my most unpleasant bus experience ever. Eww eww. To give you the history, a few weeks ago I walked up to the bus stop and sat down to wait and said good morning to the guy next to me. I always nod, smile, and say hello to people. This guy had been riding the bus for few weeks and that was the full extent of our interaction. That morning when I said hello he replied with, "Well, is this the morning when we're going to stop just exchanging glances and you're going to give me your phone number?"

Ahhh! I was horrified. My reply was literally, "What? Who? Me? Oh no, I'm married."

Haha... and then the bus came and I escaped, but I was just horrified that he would have read into my simple greeting that I was interested! That made it tempting to stop greeting anyone with a smile, but as Isaac said, you can't stop being polite just becuase some people read too much into it.

Anyways, so since that morning that guy has avoided me and I've seen him chatting up a few women on the bus. Yesterday, though, he came and sat in the seat next to me in the back of the bus and asked me what I was reading. I showed him, and then he pulled a book out of his bag and said, "I wrote this book - it's not anything like what you're reading, but it's a book about relationships - not from anyone that's gone to college and studied them, but just someone that has been in them. It's on amazon but it's not in bookstores yet."
So I take the book and .... the cover has flames surrounding a photo of this guy dressed in an all orange suit standing over a woman who is on all fours and in dominatrix dress (or lack therof). He has one leg propped up on her back in a domineering position. The title says, "The Pimp Bible".

Ahhh! The back was equally disgusting, if not worse.  The chapters were labeled with ridiculous twisted books of the Bible names, like "Levitipimpicus" and stuff like that. The guidelines for men that I saw were ridiculous. Rule #1 - bang as many girls as you can as often as you can, so long as you aren't infringing on any other pimps territory.

I won't go any further, I'll just say that it was the most disgusting book I've ever seen. Not only because I completely disagree with that view of sexuality, but because I am completely offended as a woman. A "book about relationships?" I think not! Women were only referred to as objects to be acted upon, never as an equal partner or someone whose thoughts or feelings needed to be considered. The only other human beings considered were other men that might be offended.

I mean, I just felt sick. I didn't even want to reply with where I stood on the issue, becuase to be honest it might make me look like someone that is innocent and would be interesting to conquer, particularly since you never know how many other people will be around at the bus stop in the morning. So I just handed the book back, nodded, and said nothing. I'm ever so glad that I could give him the complete chaff when he asked for my phone number, but how horrifying is it that he could chat up some young girl who notes that he's well dressed and nice-looking, and they could stumble into that sick situation.

I suppose when you're face-to-face with people, you get the good and the bad, right?


Alice said...

Oh my stars, that is so grody. I wouldn't know what to do.

cclarebear said...

i'm sorry, that last encounter made me laugh out loud. a pimp bible?! i'm glad you didn't give him the satisfaction of looking horrified though.

Togenberg said...

I remember this post. Yeah, Levitipimpicus? That's so unclever and a stretch that it's almost not comprehendable.

You did a great job in your response especialyl considering how surreal it was and the potential vulnerabilities you'd have. What a creep.

jeremy said...

This happens everything. Most people traveling experience it.