Shades of Gray

American Slice # 1

0 Comments 08 January 2014

#73 Bus, somewhere between Watertown and Cambridge MA 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday

She was visibly uncomfortable; squirming, sitting on the edge of her seat, groaning. Volatile. I wouldn’t say her unease was contagious – because no one really gave a shit about her – but it was evident. That’s not true actually because there was a gentleman next to her that showed an apathetic interest in her. Her mane of grey hair wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to be gnarled or frizzy so it was doing its best to leverage the best of both worlds. Her sky-blue Sal’s garage sweatshirt was a little ratty but her hot pink, tapered sweatpants where the envy of the bus.

For a little context the #73 bus route is its own trail of tears. Constantly late, routinely packed beyond the legal limit and always, ALWAYS over 90 degrees. My daily commute has accelerated my aging five fold and at times has brought me to my knees both questioning god’s existence and asking for his/her help. However, Cambridge is a populous place with lots of people making the commute into the city. A 2.3 mile ride into Harvard Square takes anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Us daily riders understand this. We take whatever means necessary to numb the misery. We’ve been broken and just want IT to end as soon as IT starts. We commiserate with a glance or a nod, very rarely talking. We DON’T like the occasional riders being vocal about the misery. We know it, we get it, we live it. Enter hot pink sweat pant lady.

“ I can’t believe this traffic. Its 9:30 and there’s so much traffic. Why’s there so much traffic” she squeals turning this way and that, forcing herself on people occasionally glancing at her watch.

Why is there so much traffic at 9:30?”.

An old lady trying to mind her own business decided to weigh in. “Its not 9:30 its 8:30 and rush hour”. Pink sweat pant lady looked at her companion for confirmation. He closed his eyes, nodded and whispered “she’s right”. I was so close to all this the extra breath it took to make the “S” sound hit my face.

Sweat pant lady sat back perplexed. In her mind that didn’t account for HER having to wait in traffic. All this thinking must have made her antsy b/c all of a sudden she got up and announced that she could “no longer so no mo”. Instead, she decided to get up, spin around (very similar to a dog trying to mat the grass where he intends to lay) and continue to question the traffic to the extent where she wasn’t sure where she was any longer.

On any giving morning, because of the packed house, a person had barely enough room to bend over to get something he/she might have dropped let alone all this extra activity. Luckily I was diagonal from her and the poor bastard standing next to me (and in front of her) got more than he bargained for this morning. At first her spinning around was essentially shoving her head directly into his face which, judging by his look, was vile. But as she began to question where she was, she started to lean over and wipe the fog from the windows to try to familiarize herself to her surroundings. Her bending over was giving my neighbor some type of perverse lap dance that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Then came the light.

“Why is everything stopped?”

“Its the light at the intersection. At this time of morning it usually takes 3 or 4 cycles to get through” her companion replied patiently.

After her spinning, wiping of the windows and a few grumbles “ it can’t be this light, we’re not moving! We might be stuck here! We’re not moving!”

“Its the light at the intersection. At this time of morning it usually takes 3 or 4 cycles to get through”

This exchange went on for ten more minutes. The rest of us pretended to be reading but I was completely entertained. At least pacified by the communal suffering. Some of the other passengers were perhaps not.

Finally through the light, we had smooth sailing into Harvard Square. Not for sweat pant lady though. She’d had enough. She demanded to be let off. The bus driver obliged and pulled over. As she made her way through the thick crowd of people. She tripped and on her way over clutched a man’s jacket knocking the book out of his hand. THE GROUP helped her up and she eventually made it off. With the main attraction over with I went on reading.

If you’ve been a part of a Slice of America please let us know at

- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

Contact the author

Share your view

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2021 The Shade. Powered by WordPress.