Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Public transit story #6: Mystery shoppers

What with skyrocketing gas prices, I decided this evening to suck it up and buy a monthly bus pass in addition to my high-value train ticket. I was hesitant to do this because monthly bus passes cost $70, and I rarely drive anyway because people in these parts are such idiots behind the wheel. Plus, I walk to and from the train station on this end.

Well, most of the time I walk to and from the station on this end. Sometimes I have my wife come pick me up in the evening because my job (and all of its walking) make me just so damn tired that another mile and a half might possibly kill me. But then that means the car gets turned on, goes three miles in stop light city, and gets turned off again. Which uses up prodigious quantities of precious, precious gasoline.

Thus, I finally sucked it up and bought me a bus pass tonight.

After my gloriously ecologically-minded purchase, I got on my gloriously non-ecologically-minded bus. Some of the buses have hydrogen fuel cells these days, but not the ones on the line I use most often. The 9 is seriously AC Transit's neglected child. Tonight's bus not only was carpeted with sunflower husks (unheard of on other lines!), but some of the seats in the back were mysteriously wet.

Two of the dry seats in the back were occupied by a pair of young men, at most 19 years old but in all likelihood no more than 17. These two fellows were decked out in gangsta regalia, pants 'round their ankles and bling 'round their necks. Once I took my own dry seat, one of them asked me where the bus turned.

"It turns down Haste," I said, "and then it goes on MLK for a block before turning again on Dwight."

"Where Haste?" the boy said. (In case anyone was wondering, the verb "to be" is still a full member of the English language.)

"It's in about a block and a half," I replied.

"Okay," the boy replied. "You know that fabric store," he continued, naming a fancy local fabric store.

"Yeah," I said.

"Where's it at?"

I told him.

"Where do we get off for it?"

"Right after the bus turns on Haste," I said.

"Is it for?"


"Is it for?"

"Is it four o'clock? No, it's not." In fact, it was nearly seven.

"Noooo, is it for?"

His friend could hardly contain himself.

"I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're asking."

"Is... it... FOR. Like, how far we have to walk?"

"Oh, is it far? No, you just get off at the corner and walk a block and a half that way," I replied, pointing.

"You smoke weed?" asked the boy.

"No," I said.

"You never smoked weed?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"Okay," he said.

The bus turned on Haste and the two boys got off. Despite my excellent directions (and pointing), they paced around bewilderedly until long afted the bus had passed.

"Those are two of the most unlikely fabric store customers I've ever seen," I said to the middle-aged guy next to me. He giggled.

So I ask you: Were they going to score some weed in front of the fabric store? Did they want to compensate me for my generous help? Did they want to score some weed from me? Did I look high?

Did they want me to come to their hotboxed quilting bee?

In any case, thus far it's $70 well spent.


Heather said...

This was ridiculously funny. And I could *so* hear you in my head having this conversation.

(And yeah, I know it's my turn to write. I'm working on that.)

Kara said...

OMG, I was literally laughing out loud! Only you would have this conversation. LOL you should have just told them you were hearing impaired when you couldn't understand them. - Kara