Friday, February 20, 2004

It's always something a little bit different when you commute on the bus in L.A. The first day I ever did so, there was a crazy muttering homeless Vietnam vet type dude who started screaming at the bus driver and then got off at the next stop. I haven't seen him again. Actually, over the last few months, about once a week I can count on seeing the only truly recurring character on the 14 line--the middle-aged black transvestite who sits in the back, wears a lot of beads, and eats oranges. He was on the bus again this morning, looking as fetching as ever. (Which is to say, not very--he may also be the homeless middle-aged black transvestite who wears beads and eats oranges.)

This evening, there were five teenagers sitting in the back with me.

Now, here I should digress by pointing out that one common occurrence is for me to be the white guy on the bus, along with some Koreans, numerous Hispanics and Filipinos, and a small number of black folk. I'm fine with that, and most people on the bus are live and let live anyway. No one ever seems to talk, or read, or do anything but sit and drift out into space. I read and, like everyone else, avoid eye contact.

Anyway, I was sitting there tonight reading my random history book, and these five kids are talking, and I start to realize that they're talking about me--because apparently I'm deaf too--and I realize that they've dropped the word "undercover" at least four times. So at some point I looked up, and they got a little bit quiet, and I (extremely self-consciously) muttered something about how they should do what they wanted because I wasn't undercover. A little bit of highly awkward small talk ensued, as I seriously hoped they would get off at the Metro train station (plausible, since at least half the people normally do). They did; as they were leaving, though, I noticed that at least two of them had taken out graffiti-writing markers or paint, but they ended up not using it. Mind you, numerous times my presence hasn't stopped people from writing graffiti on the bus seat, wall, pole, or door. But this one time my sheer existence served as a deterrent.

Just call me Joe The Graffiti Narc.

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