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From The Great Beyond October 27, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet, Life, Lovin'.
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Hey everyone!  Remember me?  You know, that Mexican girl you talk to sometimes?  Yeah, I’m not dead…yet.  Just totally, completely swamped.  It’s been non-stop work for me lately, so much so that I haven’t been able to type up a single little blog post.  Intolerable, I know.

Anyway, in the interval, why don’t you check out my new favorite website: People of Walmart. I, of course, live in the Walmart (not Wal-Mart, they’ve changed their branding!) capital of the world, which means I pretty much swing by a Supercenter every other day.  I mean, the convenience!  The affordability!  The PEOPLE.

Of course, you’ve read about one of my encounters with a Walmart employee whether you realize it or not.  But really, I can vouch for the People of Walmart website single handedly.  I mean, seriously.  I cannot begin to tell you how many nutjobs I’ve seen trolling the aisles of the Middle Class Retail Mecca of the World.  For example, one night John and I went to Walmart around 2:00 am, I can’t remember why, probably for unmentionable naughty things Cheez-its.  We noticed a man walking around the store with a giant 42″ flat screen plasma television in a cart; we mainly noticed because the man was rocking the longest mullet I have ever in my life seen.  Throw in the dirty camo pants, and he definitely looks like he doesn’t have indoor plumbing, let alone the wall space for such a honker of a boob-tube.  Anyway, the guy happens to be lapping the store, and as we make our way to the front we watch him try to walk out the front door with the television, even though John and I both know he hasn’t paid for it.  He presents the greeter with a reciept, which is promptly denied.  He then gets angry and walks back to the electronic department like he’s going to put the television back, only to try to exit through ANOTHER Walmart entrance/exit, despite the fact that it’s closed.  John and I hang out to watch this guy, who tries to exit the store not once, but three different times.

I mean seriously.  Why try and steal such a huge television?  Why get greedy?  Steal some small expensive things, like cell phones, curtains, etc. and sell those in order to get the cash to buy the television.  Tisk tisk.

Anyway, enjoy the website.  I sure do.

Told You So March 19, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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One will inevitably apply to me every Sunday

One will inevitably apply to me every Sunday

Here’s a secret that was posted this Sunday.  Whoops!  Looks like I’ve been caught.

Weren’t My Cannabis February 16, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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There are a couple of different stops on the Red route within a mile of my apartment.  If I wake up early enough I’ll catch the one by Toys ‘R Us.  It’s the 5th stop on the route, which means longer ride time in the morning, but I get home faster in the afternoon (and let’s be honest, that’s the part that really matters).  If I’m running late, I can always wait at Walmart, which is a few stops down the line but only a mile or so further away. 

This morning was a late morning, so I headed to Walmart.  As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed that a police car had pulled over an old silver Buick.  I thought it was a little early in the morning for that sort of public vigilance, but whatever.  I figured the person had either been a) sleeping in his/her car all night long, and the manager had called the police to remove the squatters or b) speeding.  

I only had to wait a few minutes before the bus made its way down the main street, so I piled out of my truck.  I stood in the frigid morning trying not to shiver as it rolled up to the curb; as I began to make my way towards the stairs, I noticed a woman hurrying towards me.  At first I thought she was special needs–many mentally disabled people ride the Red–but as she approached she seemed to be (at least decently) lucid.  She was probably in her early 40s and, like most of the non-traditional bus patrons, seemed a little worse for the wear.  

“That policeman almost didn’t let me go,” she huffed, completely indignant, cutting in front of me.  “I told him none of that weed weren’t mine, that it was all his, and he almost made me miss the bus.”

Sure, lady.  Whatever you say.

Monkey See February 2, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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A lady wearing a gorilla suit rode the bus today.

I know.  What can you say to that?

An Awkward Group January 22, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs.
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Last week I caught the 5:00 bus home, which is like, the HEIGHT of Crazy Time.  It had been a hard day at work, so all I really wanted to do was get to my truck and head home.  

I got to the bus depot on campus a little early, so I sat down and pulled out a newspaper.  A few of the “Red Bus Regulars” were also milling about.  There’s one elderly lady that I’ve noticed repeatedly because she just doesn’t seem to fit into the “Red Bus” demographic.  She’s shorter than me, so about 5’3″ or so, and really well-kept.  Obviously not a college student, she always dresses nicely and keeps to herself.  That’s not to say that you can’t ride the bus without being 1) a college student or 2) trashy, but…okay, well, maybe that’s usually how it works out.  

Anyway, this quiet little lady and I have had a few interactions.  The first time she was trying to get on the bus while I was getting off, and she was still a ways away.  She started running–mind you, this woman is like, 70, so it was more like quick, erratic hobbling–so I knocked on the door to the bus as it began to move and asked the driver to wait for her.  She was very soft spoken; not impolite per se, but definitely a little shy.  The second time she and I spoke, the bus had to turn around because of road work.  This kept her from getting to her stop, so she asked for the bus to drop her off about a half-mile from where she was headed.  As she was getting off, I offered for her to ride to where I was parked (at the mall, about 4 minutes away), and told her that I’d be more than willing to give her a ride if she’d like to wait.  She looked at me, a “deer in the headlights” look on her face, and promptly shuffled off the bus.  OKAY, LADY.  WHATEVER.  Then I watched her almost get hit by not one but two cars as she attempted to teeter through traffic.  

Come to think of it, maybe she does belong on the Red Bus.  Hmmm.

Anyway, I noticed that she was speaking to a young man in the terminal.  He was probably 23, fairly tall with a shaved head, heavily freckled.  I remember thinking what a bad look that was for him, but he seemed to be speaking with the elderly lady in a decent manner, so I let it go.  She seemed to be getting along quite well with her skinhead friend. 

Anyway, once we boarded the bus, those two (along with a few of his friends) sat right in front of me.  I tried to put my headphones on and relax, but the conversation up front was too loud to ignore.  

Skinhead:  (speaking to a young Hispanic man sitting across from him)  Hey Jose, where was you last night?  I needed you there with me to calm me down!

(Jose has a young wife and a child–I suspect the family is a result of an unexpected teen pregnancy.  I often wonder what they saw in each other, but one fact is undeniable:  their son is SO CUTE.)

Jose:  Man, I got a family.  I can’t be helping you like that no more. (Admirable reply, I think)

Skinhead:  Man, no really man, then I wouldn’t have done what I did if you was here with me.  Man, I punched a guy.  

At this point, I realized that Skinhead’s right hand, which was draped around The Elderly Lady’s shoulders, was bandaged.  

Jose:  Who’d you punch?

Skinhead:  Oscar (who I gathered from later conversation was a neighbor).

Jose:  Man, you can’t be doing that.  

Skinhead:  But he was trying to get into the apartment!  So, you know, I was drunk, so I told him to get the f*** out, but he didn’t!  (insert donkey-esque guffaw here).  So man, like, I punched him.  And I was so mad I couldn’t feel my hand, so then I punched the wall, and then I ran outside and punched through the newspaper stand.  

At this point my jaw drops.  Seriously?  You punched through a wall and a newspaper stand?  

Skinhead:  (continuing) Yeah, man, you know.  Then the cops came, but they didn’t arrest me!  Jose, you should have been there, man.  I needed you to hold me back!  You know, man, if someone was out to hurt you or your little one, I’d kill ’em.  I’d kill ’em dead.

I just bet you would.  My bus stop quickly approaches, so I arrange my things.  The conversation in front of me lapses into silence for a few minutes.  Then, to my surprise, Little Old Lady chimes in, as serious as she could be.  

Little Old Lady:  That’s right.  You go right ahead and kill him.

Uh huh.  Right.  She should totally be on the Red bus.  

Because I’m A Selective Listener November 21, 2008

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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About three weeks ago this area of the country had its first cold snap, which prompted the trees to change colors and the locals to fish out their bulky–though toasty–outerwear.  I’ve been living here for four years, but I’m still not accustomed to the winter weather, so where many people were donning sweatshirts, I had on my sub-zero Columbia.  

Cold snaps are particularly problematic for someone who catches the bus in the morning.  Its always much colder at 7:00 or 8:00, so if you’re not careful, the weather can take you by surprise.  This particular morning happened to be below freezing at 7:00 a.m. with the wind chill, so I was particularly proud of my forethought.  I swung my truck into a prime space in the Walmart* parking lot and trudged over to the bus stop to hitch a ride onto campus.  

Normally the 7:00 route is fairly empty, but today I happened to have one of the on-again, off-again bus-taking Walmartians to keep me company.  I had seen this woman at the stop before, but normally she was busy either a) smoking up a storm or 2) chatting with her fellow, equally odd Walmartian co-workers.  The last time I’d been privvy to their conversation they’d been discussing how her neighbor had been kicked out of her apartment complex for attacking the landlord; with this in mind, I nodded a polite “hello” and sent her a reserved smile, keeping my fingers crossed that I’d done just enough to meet decorum without inviting further conversation. 

Pah.  Some luck.  

Not five seconds after I’d arranged my backpack and lunchbox on the ground, this woman pulled out a pack of cigarettes and started to drum up conversation.  I didn’t expect much; she certainly look like she’d been “rode hard and put up wet,” so to speak.  She was in her late 50s as best I could guess, average height, a little round around the middle.  Her hair was long enough to reach past her lower back despite the fact it was pulled back in a scrunchii that looked like she’d had it since 1993.  The cheap, Crayola yellow she’d decided to dip her head in made her smoker’s complexion look even more pasty, and the constant punishment she’d inflicted on her poor, defenseless hair made it look more like hay than anything else.  I could tell that she’d put effort into her appearance, though–she certainly hadn’t neglected make-up.  I didn’t ask her name–still don’t know it–so for the sake of the story, we’ll call her “Blondie.”  

I discreetly moved myself and my pile out of her smoke trail as she began to complain about how late the bus was running. 

“Man, don’t he know I’m freezing out here?” she railed.  “This bus driver is always late.  He’s supposed to be here at 7:30, and it’s already done 7:35.  The old bus driver, he wasn’t never late.”

“Oh,” I respond.  The Red bus’ driver is actually quite delightful.  Unlike his counterparts, he actually waits for latecomers and doesn’t leave you in a cloud of natural gas fumes if you happen to have waited in your car to keep warm.  He’s always friendly, and usually quite nice to talk to.  I’d been riding his buses off and on for four years, so I felt morally obligated to defend his honor.  At least a little.  “Sometimes he runs a little late on the first route because he has to get out of the depot.”

Of course, the Blonde Bombshell cuts no slack, continuing on about how cold she is.  I notice she’s wearing nothing more than a thin, purple hoodie and say as much.  

“Well, I’d be wearing my coat if I had it,” she responds.  She’s clearly getting agitated now; her voice has more than the usual amount of edge to it.  “I used to have a green coat, but it got holes in the pocket so I threw it away.  Then I got a pink one, but it’s dirty, so I can’t wear it.”

Hrm.  Problematic, this.  I start to realize that this woman is fully prepared to divulge much more information that I’m willing to listen to.  I respond with sympathy, and make a show of putting on my backpack, hoping she’ll take it as a signal that our conversation is over.  

She doesn’t. 

“I would wash (pronounced WAR-sh) my jacket, but the machines at the place where I rent (not “apartment,” not “complex”) are broke.”  

I politely suggest taking her jacket to the cleaners, mentioning that it’s better for it than the warshing machine anyway.  Blondie will have none of it, and tells me that dry cleaning is a waste of money.  Apparently she visited a cleaners, and when they told her the price, she turned right around and walked out.  Fine, I think, this woman obviously gets minimum wage.  Cleaners can be outrageous–perhaps she has a point.  

“I went to the laundromat too, and they wanted to charge me $1.75 a load!  I couldn’t believe it!  That’s just way too expensive,” she says.  I start to interject, but Blondie cuts me off.  “It’s no good though.  There’s a sign on the door [to the warshroom, I assume] that says the machines will be fixed soon, but it’s been two weeks and they ain’t done nothing about it.”  

TWO WEEKS?!  I’m sure my jaw dropped and my eyes got wide.  Talk about airing your dirty laundry!  Har-dee-har-har.   

“Well,” I reply, forgetting the caution I normally exert when dealing with CRAZY PEOPLE, “It seems to me that’s not too much to pay for clean clothes.”

“Did you not hear me?!” This woman–whom I’d never spoken to before five minutes ago–has started to YELL at me.  “You weren’t paying to attention to anything I was saying!”  She’s now making eye contact, a sure sign of aggression in animals, children, and Walmartians.

Oh.  EXCUSE ME.  Not only is some stranger yelling at me, she’s falsely accusing me of not actively participating in a conversation that I politely tried to end numerous times.  At this point, I’ve crossed the line from being mildly annoyed to just plain pissed.  

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I respond, drawing myself up straight, returning her stare.  “I heard every word you said.  $1.75.  See?  I caught that.  I’m just saying that it’s not too much to pay for clean underwear.”  We stare at each other for a few seconds, and she looks away.  Ha!  Point for me. 

If you take nothing else from this post, remember this:  If you don’t win that dominance-establishing staring match with animals, children, or Walmartians, they will tear you apart.  You have to sacrifice manners for survival.

I clearly am the bigger dog, but this doesn’t convince Blondie to shut up.  She moves on to another story, telling me about how her daughter helped her get a job at Walmart, but then was fired.  That’s why she rides the bus now, she says.  Her daugher’s (lousy, no good, jerk of a) husband won’t let her drive mama to work at 11:00 p.m. at night. 

“I never did like him, not at all,” she finishes defiantly as the bus pulls up.  As I wait behind her to get on, the bus driver and I share an eye roll.  What a nut job, I say to him without words.  

As she sits down in the seat behind him so she can chat with a new victim, he responds with a glance:  Oh, I TOTALLY KNOW.