I spent a lot of time on the bus Saturday, going to and from the mechanic....
When the bus goes south, it often changes drivers at one particular stop - much to my delight. On Saturday, a broken-looking man got on after the change, and started talking to the new driver. I heard him say something about "just got out of the hospital" and show his wrist to the driver. Whatever he said did the trick; he got on and sat down near the front.
The bus took off. After some time, the man looked up, alarmed, and asked which direction we were going.
"South," we all yelled.
"Does this bus stop at Irving Park?" he wanted to know.
"I just got out of the hospital," he explained in his too-loud voice. "I'm a little disorientated."
A few stops later, he lifted his head up again. "Does this bus stop at Irving Park?"
A few minutes later, the head shot up again. "What time is it?" he asked.
Someone told him.
"I just got out of the hospital," he explained. "I'm a little disorientated."
The bus turned down a side street to make a detour around the Folk and Roots Festival. The man's head shot up again. "Are we still going to Irving Park?"
A few stops later the head shot up again.
"What day is it?"
Again the speech about being disoriented.
At the next stop a man with a beard got on and sat next to the hospital-man.
"Does this bus stop at Irving Park Road?" asked the disoriented man.
"Yes it does," the bearded man said.
"I just got out of the hospital," the disoriented man explained, and rolled up his sleeve to show his hospital bracelet. "I'm a little bit disorientated."
"What happened to you?" the bearded man asked, with genuine interest.
"I got hit by a cab," said the disoriented man. The rest was garbled. But it sounded something like, "It broke my neck."
The bearded man gave him a good look and expertly felt the man's neck. "It's not broken, or you'd be wearing something on it," he said with confidence. He had the authority of the take-charge character Jack, on the TV show "Lost." "Maybe it was a hairline fracture."
"I took the thing off," the disoriented man said.
"When will we get to Irving Park?"
"Don't worry - I'm getting off there," the bearded man replied. "I'll get off with you."
The disoriented man breathed a sigh of relief. His whole being relaxed.
"I just got out of the hospital," he explained.
"By the way, can you spare a dollar or two?"
The bearded man reached into his pocket, got his wallet and pulled out a dollar.
"This is all I can spare right now," he explained. "I'm out of work, too."
After witnessing this little vignette, I became a lot less concerned about my own little housing and automobile travails.....