Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Something Terrifying

When you see inevitable disaster in the making, you're transfixed. You can't move. You can't speak. You can't do anything to change or stop it. It seems to take a thousand years to transpire, but must surely be happening within the time needed to gasp in alarm. You see utter calamity coming right at you and about to draw you in, and it is absolutely immutable. There's nothing to do but witness it and learn after the fact how to live with the outcome that was always going to happen. I had what felt like this kind of experience very recently, and felt what must have been the presence of God's grace save me from it.

I was on the bus from my place down to the subway station. A stop or so after I got on, a couple got on. At first, I was somewhat amused by their conversation about how they had saved themselves from walking miles in the heat by getting on the bus. My attitude changed when I saw what they were carrying. Each of them had an average sized, uncovered plastic cup full to the brim with some manner of fruit-flavored soda. The cups had no lids, and the couple was casually, slowly drinking them through straws on a city bus hurtling down Lankershim Boulevard.

You're not supposed to have food and drink on the bus. This is one of many rules which together can create an atmosphere of oppression, but most of those rules are extremely sensible when taken on their own, and I for one am grateful that the populace largely abides by them. This couple did not, and once I saw what was going on, it was a little like watching a jackass hopping around on the other side of the barrier at the Grand Canyon. The big difference was that in this situation, I could be brought down along with the couple too dumb to live through no fault of my own.

I don't think I need to explain how rough a ride it can be on Los Angeles streets. A good driver who knows them and drives a vehicle well-equipped to manage potholes, tight corners and bad drivers can do no more than minimize the risks associated of a very jarring ride. On a bus, there are inherently many occasions on the average ride when the unwary can fall down or collide with either another passenger or some part of the vehicle's interior. Dropping something you're holding or having it ripped from your hands and thrown across the bus is completely within the realm of possibility. I saw those cups of red soda permanently ruining the nice clothes I had put on for church. You know very well that I an incapable of getting any such stain out. As I've said, stains are a death sentence for my garments.

The ten or so minutes I spent in their presence seemed to never end. They got off at the subway where I did. They rode down the escalator into the station right in front of me. I rode the second escalator down onto the platform as they purchased their tickets from the machine, and waited to see what car of the waiting train they would get on, and made very sure I got on another. I was spared, but felt I had aged months by the time it was over. I wondered why I would be tested like this- wondered what lesson could be imparted, what point made to me. It was horrible, but I made it through unscathed, and hope that I have become a better, tougher man as a result.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What say you, netizen?