Thursday, October 2, 2008

Muttering Man

When we were at the bus stop, he was reading a book quietly, oblivious to the comings and goings around him. He was waiting for the 338. So were we. When it arrived, he stood up slowly and waited for everyone else.

He sat somewhere in the middle. We sat towards the back. He resumed his reading. We wrestled with our backpacks and folding chairs. The guy in front of us had a backpack and chair, too.

At the next stop, a few more people got on. Some were carrying chairs and backpacks. The reading guy jumped up and moved to the back corner of the bus. He mumbled just loudly enough for those of us nearby to hear him, "I hate Austin."

At the next stop, there were about a dozen people more. They had packs and chairs and sunglasses and smiles on their faces like they were on a vacation. They were. We were. We were going to ACL.

At the next stop, a bigger crowd was waiting. They were smiling and laughing and carrying more chairs and had clearly never ridden the bus before. They didn't know how it worked. They thought the bus driver would break a $20.

"Damn ACL," the reading man muttered. He was now surrounded by chairs and backpacks and sunglasses and smiling faces. All the seats in the bus were full. The aisle was full. He started muttering more loudly and then started cussing. "Nice music, dude. I hope you like your music."

"Are you talking to us?" one of the guys next to him asked.

In a different bus things would have turned out differently. On a different bus with different people it wouldn't have been a pretty sight. But the cussing reading muttering man was alone in his corner surrounded by a bus load of smiling, laughing, chair-toting, backpack-wearing people who had other things to do.

It was early in the day, after all. The sky was blue. The air was relatively cool. There was a weekend of music ahead. Why let the muttering of a pathetic mumbling cursing man ruin it?

I wonder what he was reading.

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