Tuesday, April 6, 2010

(Word) Portraits of bus riders

When I get on the bus, I'll often pull out my computer and write while listening to music, or I'll pull out a book and get lost in it.  One morning, though, I didn't feel like pulling out my book.  I read a few pages in Boneshaker and put it away (I want to stretch it out!).  And I wasn't feeling motivated to write (yet).  So I sat back and started just observing the ride.  I watched the people board, and some caught my eye.  Below is a written "portrait" of those who caught my eye in just a glance, or have stood out over time to me.

There's the man across the aisle from me.  He's wearing patent leather square toe oxfords with blue jeans (which have the beginning of some holes above one knee).  His shirt is white with cuff links securing the french cuffs.  He has on a black velvet dinner jacket, trimmed with satin at the collar.  The stubble of his light hair is just slightly longer than the two or three day-old beard on his face.  He sits and taps away at his iPhone. 

There's the woman who boards at the same stop as me.  She frequently wears denim jacket with scarf wrapped multiple times about her neck.  She always seems to be wearing a skirt, often with funky stockings and a pair of Mary Janes or flat soled boots.  Her hair is moderately long and dark, streaked with grey.  It's pulled back and bound with a purple hair band.  She sits with her cup of coffee, pulls out her cell phone and checks something, puts it away and sits and looks ahead for the rest of the ride in.

The  woman in all black.  She is a periodic rider.  What I noticed about her first was her black, knee-high, lace up, lug soled, black leather boots.  Not many women even try to pull that off.  She wears all black: jeans, shirt, jacket and baseball cap.  Today, she has a splash of color (indeterminate dark one) in the form of the scarf she is wearing.   She carries a black canvas handbag with a Tim Burton-esque character on the flap.  It looks like the face of a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  She has narrow black rimmed glasses and wears black eye and lip makeup.  Her lip liner making her face look to be in a permanent frown.  It makes her look old, perhaps older than she really is.  She walks to the back of the bus, and disappears among the other riders

A man gets on with dreadlocks and goatee.  His ears are pierced and he wears a do-rag holding his dreads back.  The temple piece of his glasses has kind of a vertical ribbing on it.  He's in dark denim work pants, boots and a dark red fleece jacket.  I can see a dark stiped scarf inside of his jacket.  He carries a messenger bag and a ballistic plastic case.  He'd drinking from a small, insulated plastic Starbucks cup with what looks to be a child's design on it.  He sits quietly drinking from his cup, looking ahead across the aisle to the south.  Is he impressed with the view of Mt. Rainier today?

There's the woman in the high-heels.  Every day she wears high-heeled boots (thin heels at that) with either tight-legged pants or a skirt with some sort of funky stockings.  She also always wears a long wool coat over top of everything.  She's traded out her large yellow handbag for something smaller and of a color I can't identify.  Her facial features and long, straight dark hair remind me of an early '80's woman rocker before big hair became the fashion; Joan Jett maybe...or Pat Benetar?  She is often running to catch the bus before it pulls away from the stop.  She sits in the front of the bus plugged into her iPod, nodding to the music and staring blankly off into space ahead as the driver drives.

A man who loads his bike half way up the hill.  He leaves his panniers and trunk on the bike's rack.  He is wearing rain gear, despite the clear skies.  His nylon pants swish as he walks down the aisle of the bus to his seat with a bulky backpack and carrying his sporty yellow helmet.

There is the business woman who boards in front of Starbucks.  She wears a long, black wool coat.  The belt is tied rather than bucked.  Her hair is a moderately short, casual style.  She's wearing ear muffs today with a loose band that won't press down on her hairdo.  She has a large black leather bag, as well as a Nieman Marcus canvas bag.  Under her arm she carries a folded up newspaper.  Once she sits down, she pulls out her paper and starts to read.  She doesn't hold it right up in front of her face like many people do on the bus, hiding from everyone else.  No, she holds it at a fair distance, as if she were sitting in an easy chair at home. 

There is the gentleman who reminds me of a rumpled professor or an attorney who is not in it for the money.  He's probably in his late 40's to early 50's.  He's a little on the heavy side.  He wears cotton casual pants with worn leather shoes.  Usually a green fleece jacket.  He carries a fairly well worn old Eddie Bauer briefcase.  His hair is thinning slightly and he has a mottled gray and brown beard.  A couple of months ago, he was writing a comedy act in preparation for some event he was going to.  He will often sit and jot things in a notebook, or talk with another passenger during the ride.

1 comment:

Maurie Kirschner said...

What an interesting glimpse into your daily ride. You painted a great picture of the everyday characters. Makes me want to go people watch.