Riding Bus 200 (State Street) in Salt Lake always presents a menagerie of opportunities for fantastic dialogue with interesting folk. Yesterday, however, I reached the ultimate apex of this adventure. No matter what happens between now and our increasingly-imminent departure for Europa, I daresay nothing can top my experience yesterday.
It was a day like no other, seemingly impervious clouds that blocked the sun just until I had to sit facing it. I, along with the ordinary motley inhabitants of State Street dumps, hookah shops, and bowling alleys clambered onto the packed bus that stunk of a human degeneracy that can only be caused by an absence of deodorant. Over the last week or so I’ve noticed a resurgence of homeless people on the bus. They spread out in every corner of the bus so that each person can smell them to some extent. Ironically, the money given to homeless people is being used to secure bus fare, which they then use to torture those from whom they received it in the first place. It’s like a water cycle of stench.
Anyway, the highlight of this bus ride rivals anything that I experienced in Hungary–or maybe similar events in Hungary were simply trivialized by vast number of times which they occurred. Regardless, a paraplegicalized man of great girth sauntered onto the bus via a mechanical vehicle to which he was eternally fused. He seemed to have screamed himself hoarse in his struggle to reconcile the apparent incorrect balance on his Radioshack gift card (he kept yelling into his cell phone that he had laryngitis and that that was no excuse for not being able to hear him). At length, he turned to me and asked me to act as an intermediary between him and the proclaimed liar on the other end of the phone who kept professing to this handicapped bear of a man that he could not understand him.
I acquiesced out of a combined altruism and fear for some sort bestial reprisal. I have always learned the absence of certain senses can enhance the others, so I figured that the same might be true a appendages. I was also unsure of the capabilities of the device to which he was affixed. As I began speaking to this man from Radioshack, he was surprised to learn that I wasn’t a friend or even an acquaintance, but rather, just a bus 200 commuter who happened to sit near this dissatisfied customer and also be capable of cognition, motor skills, and speech using sounds other than guttural and pharyngeal. I was able to pass on all of the required information using a rudimentary system of signs, grunts, and cursive written in the air. The final test was to pass on his phone number. This should have been a simple task, even considering the circumstances, but he was unable to either remember the number or count on his hands without having to use his other hand to hold down the unnecessary fingers–this made communicating beyond 5 very difficult.
At length, I was able to decipher and communicate everything using his cryptic system of informational transference. He rolled off of the bus and I was left to my ordinary, solitary bus ride riddled with only the occasional screaming and cloud of body odor permanently attached to a passing homeless fellow. A delusional, likely-schizophrenic, grossly-overweight paraplegic men with laryngitis haggling over the phone on a public bus over the remaining balance of his Radioshack gift card–that, dear readers, is the triumph of the will… and I was able to take part in his small victory!