“Health and Welfare Worker”
The hiss of air brakes followed by the thump of folding doors and the slight lean as the bus keeled to the right; passengers squeezing down the narrow steps and past the queue of impatient workers trying to board the public conveyance. Massim was swept up in the ritual, close behind the man with the gray suit and Drakkar Noir who rode until the Prairie Bank headquarters stop; in front of the woman who always wore a black skirt one inch above the knee, a white blouse and a different colored handbag for each day of the week. It was gold today, therefore it was Wednesday. A quick flick of the pass, the light turned green and if past history was reliable, Massim would be standing for the next 28 minutes or so, depending on the traffic signal at Broadway and Church.
To her surprise and the four others who had joined at this stop, there was in fact an empty seat. By reflex the five of them, two men and three women, all residents of the apartment complex at 587 South Rainer Avenue, grabbed the overhead rail as the diesel motor roared and the bus pulled forward in the diamond lane en route to the next express location. They had precisely two minutes and twenty-two seconds to decide on the ownership of the vacant seat. In the eight months Massim had been riding this bus, a vacant seat had occurred only twice, Drakkar Noir man had taken one and Friday night Club girl had taken the other. By the exact etiquette of public transportation, that meant Massim, Handbag Woman and Naked Fifth Floor Man were eligible for the available seat.
All this took merely seconds to decide and with a round of nods and gestures, it was decided by unanimous decision that it was in fact Massim’s turn to stay off her feet for the next 28 minutes or so. She smiled and lowered her head gratefully and whispered ‘thank you’ to the four neighbors she’d never spoken to before or asked their names. The way of life for many who fervently wished for anonymity amongst the seething hordes that moved purposefully through the city streets. It was how she spent her day after all, talking with strangers, solving problems by listening, collecting her fee and trying her best to stay detached from the emotional outpouring that orgasms usually brought forth.
By Rose Dewy Knickers, July 16th, 2008