Time To Settle Accounts
January 16, 2012: Handicapped.
It was 1:30 in the afternoon, and the westbound bus on Chicago Ave. pulled up past the Western intersection. The front of the bus was filled, and as new passengers boarded they walked toward the back for seats. A man in his 50s boarded, walking with a cane. He looked at the filled handicapped seating and saw a man in his 20s. The young man wore ear buds attached to his phone. His head was down on his screen, playing a game on his phone, as the man with the cane walked toward him.
“Excuse me,” the man with the cane said, “I need that seat.” The ear buds man was motionless, his head still down.
“Young man, I’mma need that handicapped seat,” he said. “Hey! Don’t pretend you can’t hear me,” he said laughing. But then, angrily: “Get your ass up!”
The man with the ear buds was still motionless, his hands on his phone. Now the old man stood in front of him, clearly peeved. “This dude actin’ like he can’t hear me,” the man said aloud to the bus. “Yo!”
The man with ear buds looked up, paused as he took in the scene, and then stood and moved to the back.
“Man actin’ like he’s deaf or something,” he said, his laughter tinged with anger as he sat. “Move your ass, seriously.”
“Okay, he moved,” said another man on the other side of the aisle. He was also playing a game on his phone, and he kept his head down on his screen while he spoke. “Be a little more rude, huh?” he said to the old man.
“Calm down son,” the old man threatened. “I’ve got a limp but I can still whup your ass.”
“He had head phones on for chrissake,” the young man said, eyes still on his screen. “You come in here like an asshole – give me a break.”
“You still talking?” the old man said, and now he leaned across the aisle toward the young man, who was still playing his game. “You still talking,” the old man continued, “with your Nazi ass.”
“You have got to be the most ignorant old man I’ve ever met,” the young man said. “‘Nazi,’” he said, laughing, “’cause I’m white. Get a fucking life.”
“Your daddy was probably an ignorant old man to have you,” the old man said. “But I bet I got a foot like your daddy’s and I will put it straight up your ass.”
Nervous laughter among the other passengers dissipated and they were now watching in shock.
“At least I’m not going to die in 12 seconds,” the young man said.
“God damn right, you gonna go instantly soon as I stand up.”
“Guys, guys, cool it!” another passenger shouted from two feet away. “Seriously bro, you with the neck tat, chill out.”
At that, both men silenced and sat in their seats. The young man still had not looked up, and at the next stop he stood and moved to the back to sit with the old man’s original nemesis. His friend was still wearing headphones, and he tapped him on the shoulder. “That crazy old man was talking shit about you. Can you believe it?”
“He was talking about ME?” said the headphones guy.
“Yeah,” said his friend. “A real prick.”
A few stops later the old man got off the bus and began walking up the sidewalk toward the bus’s rear.
“Look, there he is,” the young man said to the headphones man. He knocked on the window and pointed at the old man.
The old man heard them, stopped walking, and stared them down. “Yeah, still talking? Still talking?” he said from the street.
The young men tapped on the window some more, pointed in his face, and waved goodbye as the bus pulled away.
“God, what an asshole,” the young man said, laughing.
NEXT: Common sense. (1.17.12)
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On this date, 2011: Will there be pretzels?