Thursday, March 13, 2008

ARLINGTON: Observations From the 38B

FOR BUS RIDERS, the sight of an Arlington County police officer subduing an uncooperative man on the Wilson Boulevard pavement would be a great window-gazing side-show spectacle. But on Monday afternoon, few riders of the 38B bus bound for Ballston noticed as they were distracted by a humorous drama between two women on board.

When the bus stopped to pick up passengers at the Rosslyn station, it was delayed for a few minutes by an older woman — perhaps in her 60s or 70s — who didn't have exact change for the $1.35 fare and was asking passengers if they could break a $5 bill. There was something odd about her, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. She moved slowly and methodically, sizing up everyone in a manner that could be considered sinister. She moved toward the back and I put her out of my mind.

Then, another woman took an available seat toward the front and started to carry on an open conversation with the people around her and started complaining about something I didn't understand at first. Then things came into focus: "She's a nasty woman." ... "She's always been a problem on this bus. A witch she is." ... "Sister ain't gonna steal my joy. No. No she ain't."

I put two and two together: She was referring to the woman who had just passed on by.

All the sudden I heard from the back: "Lay-dee, you hush! I don't even know you."

A heated conversation ensued as other passengers laughed, taking the whole thing in.

"Shut your trap, lay-dee! I don't even know you," the targeted woman snapped back. "Lay-dee, you lie!"

To that, the other woman said: "See what I'm saying. She's always nasty. Nasty, nasty. Sister ain't gonna steal my joy. No, not today."

Sometimes the Orange Line, despite being crowded with people, can be a boring trip. The 38B, referred to as the "Orange Line With a View" can provide ample entertainment, as long as you're not in a rush and aren't looking to steal any person's joy.

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