It’s another early morning at the Heatherton Transit Center and we’ve got some more San Quentin ex-cons. They’re waiting for the bus. It’s always the same bus I ride, the 42, the one to the East Bay. You know they’re coming from San Quentin because they’re still in the grey sweat suits, black sneakers and they carry their money in an envelope. Oh, there’s a cute one, tatoos on his pasty white forearms, neck and earlobes. Notice how his ears stick out. Was he a wrestler in high school? Don’t look him in the eye, oh no! He might strike up a conversation and the next thing you know, you’re chatting up an ex-con at the bus stop.
It’s too late, we made the eye contact. Okay, pretend you don’t speak English. Hold up your Spanish magazine. Hope he doesn’t understand “Para mejorar tu español” (to improve your Spanish) that’s plastered all over the front cover. Better yet, hope he doesn’t know how to read.
Sit in the front of the bus. I said in the front of the bus, near the bus driver. Oh, he’s flirting with the bus driver now, along with all of his ex-con friends. They high five eachother. They are FREE!
Where’s he going. Oh no! He’s sitting in the seat diagonally behind you. He and his buddies high five eachother again, and you notice that they do this after every sentence, and twice if the sentence includes the words “six pack”. Hold up your magazine, plug in your mp3 player and escape.
Ignore the women who sit behind you. They are giggling and gefawing and the ex-con greets them in his special way, and then all the ex-cons behind him give him high fives.
One of the women speaks! She says, “Excuse me. Do you have a girlfriend? ”
Discreetly turn off your mp3 player.
“No, I don’t,” says the ex-con. “But I’ll be looking for one in oh, the next thirty minutes, ha ha!”
“Well, that’s good, because I like what I see.”
The ex-con says that this is turning out to be a better day than he thought. What is this, the Love Bus? The Looooove Bus soon will be making another run. The Loooooove Bus promises something for everyone.
He says he’s on his way to Concord to meet his parole officer. He asks her if she has a job.
“Yes, I work as the front desk assistant for a center for artistic people.” Shhh, she probably means autistic but don’t say anything.
“Hell, I just spent five to seven years with a possibility of parole with artistic people,” he says. “Ha ha!”
The small talk continues. Just look straight ahead. She asks him if he has any kids, he says he has two kids, plus a new baby, but he’s not sure who the mother is. Ha ha!
She says, “I’m going to give you my number so you can call me.”
“But if I call you, what do I call you. Ha ha!”
“You can call me Moanaweesha.”
“Did you say Darling? Because you’re Darling all right. Ha ha!”
“Couldn’t I just call you Princess? It’s so much easier to pronounce.”
The bus stops in Pt. Richmond. Run. Run to Starbucks, where it is safe.