I think I may have missed a Wacky Wednesday. Typical of me to announce a weekly feature, and then drop the ball after a few installments. If you had already been eagerly anticipating last Wednesday's post, I apologize, but I'm betting you weren't. Let's move on.
One blistering summer day, I was driving the route 30 in little Gridlock (the scene of two previous Wacky Wednesdays). As I approached one stop, a man sprang out of some nearby shadows and ran toward the bus. He was a typical-looking homeless psycho/junkie-type – skinny, dirty, bedraggled. This particular specimen was wearing a book backpack backwards on his bare chest. Sticking out of the top of the bag was a puppy. A live puppy, perhaps I should add.
At first I thought I was going to have yet another sketchy “service animal” claim (I'll get into that subject someday, but every time I sit down to write about it, my blood pressure spikes, and I have to go lie down), but then I realized that the animal was essentially in a carrier, so it could come aboard that way.
The real problem, then, was the guy's lack of a shirt. We have a rule that shoes and shirts must be worn while riding the bus, and I consistently enforce that one. After all, would you want to sit in a bus seat if you knew that the previous occupant had been rubbing his sweaty, dirty, greasy, possibly diseased flesh all over it?
A lot of times shirtless people waiting for buses at least have a shirt with them, and will put it on before boarding. I asked the guy if he had a shirt, and he said he didn't. I kind of understand the desire to not wear a shirt if you're walking around outside, but I really can't fathom not having a shirt. There are a lot of places besides buses that won't let you in without a shirt. So I guess if you don't care about being able to access places that the rest of us take for granted, then more power to you, but you're a weirdo.
I told the guy that I was sorry but he couldn't ride without a shirt. He began whining and begging, saying that it was awful hot and he was worried about his dog. I did feel sorry for the poor dog, but I didn't say what I was thinking, which was maybe owner-man should have thought of that before he set out without a shirt, or maybe that he wasn't in a good situation for owning a dog in the first place. Instead I just kept repeating that the answer was no. Eventually he turned away, muttering imprecations, and I shut the door and started to pull away, when suddenly he ran back and started banging frantically on the door. I should have just kept going, but I thought, “Oh, maybe he has a question about when the next bus will be or something”, so I grudgingly stopped and opened the door. He shouted, “Santa's not going to bring you anything nice for Christmas!” and walked away. It was such a bizarre thing to say that I was more amused than angry.
The most common place to find potential bus passengers who don't have a shirt is outside the jail. They got arrested shirtless, and that's how they got released, but they're not riding my bus, even if the county is paying for their fare. Sometimes I wish I had the means to buy a bunch of cheap T-shirts so ugly or embarrassing that no one would normally wear one - maybe in a nice, bright shade of pink. I'd then have something printed on them like “I tried to ride the bus without a shirt”. I'd carry a couple of these with me everyday, and offer them to the occasional shirtless fools as an alternative to walking, just to see what they choose. I know – I'm an asshole.