Wednesday, July 15, 2009


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.

Yes, yes.

"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?"

Yes, yes.

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?"

Yes, yes.

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.....


  1. This reminds me of the man I met on my way home from Midway on Monday evening. He didn't know what train he needed to take, so I told him. We were going to change trains at the same place, but he didn't know how to get where he was going and asked me repeatedly if I was sure I knew what was going on. He was elderly and I walked slowly with him through the train station to make sure he got to his platform. Then he invited me to join him at his destination, Hooters to party with his friends. "You know what Hooters is right? That's where the girls have the *raises eyebrows and holds arms out*." I politely declined.

    I hope the car is better now!

  2. very touching. on the train yesterday a black man was yelling at a white guy dragging a suitcase "if i was a white guy you would talk with me!" right after i ended up getting approached by a man from africa. i learned everything about him in the half hour journey.-studying to be a lawyer, lived in germany, his age, photos of the girl who wants to marry him (she's too young) and his ipod recording of the US vs hounduras soccer game he was at. of course the same questions for me as in india-"how much for your tattoos? why don't you have children? what is your age?" public transpo can be enlightening. not that relevent, i know, but it was fun anyhow. i would have definitely gone to hooters : )

  3. Car Update:

    On Monday I called the mechanic to find out if the parts were in (ie; new radio and obscure missing part from Indiana for the AC). He seemed surprised to hear from me, and said he'd "call the guy" and call me right back. I never heard back.

    Meantime the new mechanic called. He'd had the car all day. He said that Mechanic A had really botched the job, but that *he* could install a special switch on the dash, from which I could turn the AC on and off. (It seems that the AC problem is rather obscure/complicated). His switch would set me back about $140 but it would work. He also told me I'd need a new radiator ($300). This made the stomach turn. I made an appointment to have it all done next Monday.

    Mechanic A finally called back Tuesday afternoon. I let it go to voicemail. His message: both parts were in. Call to set up a time to have them installed.

    I felt so ill from the whole thing that I just. couldn't. do. it. I no longer trusted him, even though he was "doing all this for {me}," as he put it, and "paying for all of it." I felt like he would wreck something else in the process, plus the radio/AC would not work - as had been the case the last five times I brought in the car. So my lawyer friend and I stopped by his shop and gave him a letter asking for a full credit. He declined, saying he was the victim in all of this and he was out money for the radio and tiny part and missing work to drive to the south side when the car overheated. Now, I plan to pursue it through the credit card company.

    I feel sad about the whole thing.

    Also....I can find no leak in the radiator, and the fluid is full to the top and there's no liquid under the car and the thermostat says everything is OK. So now I have my doubts about Mechanic B as well.

    Maybe a new car with a warranty is a good idea after all.

  4. Forgot to mention that Mechanic B said the car was low on freon - for which I paid Mechanic A $45. When I mentioned this to Mechanic A, he said, "No problem, I will fill it." *Even though I'd already paid for it, and it should have been there.* THAT'S what really made the stomach turn.