Christmastime Bus Ride in Ohio, Years Ago

Man standing, back to me, knit hat on, light clothes, medium build. Mason’s trowel in right hand,

Masons Trowel

arm back, trowel pointed at other standing man. Yelling at other man.

Other man stocky, darker skin and clothes, yelling back at first man. Waving arms.

All else has gone quiet. Bus is still rolling along. Everybody watching. Everybody sitting back into their seats.

Trowel man makes some jabbing moves at dark man. Woman near dark man jumps from her seat, rushes into next open one for protection. New seat only two feet from old seat. What protection?

Driver been ignoring this. Bus been making stops.

Trowel-man’s stop comes. He gets off, still yelling. Something bout “gun” and “knife”–who knows what crazy people yell in their crazy times? Who remembers anything but their own fear?

I watch him walk away, looking around all angry and suspicious.

Suspicious Homeless Man

Now it’s Dark Man’s turn. He sits down, but then jumps up and yells:

“Anybody else want to attack me?!” (Nobody does.) “I didn’t THINK so! Gettin’ tired of people tryin’ to KILL me all the time!”

Sits down. Half-stands up and says loudly,

“The white women weren’t scared. Everbody else was, but YOU–the WHITE women weren’t scared!”

Sits down. Puts on headphones and arms start waving all over, keeping time. Not clear if those headphones are connected to a music source.

Says, loudly, “I gotta’ have my music. I ain’t got a woman, so I gotta have my music. You understand that, my man? (To no one.) I know you do!”

Laughs. Bangs arms around some more. Says,

“My blood pressure went way up. Went up eleven mill– mill– millimeters. It’s coming down now, though. It’s down to about eight millimeters now.”

More waving.

“You understand, I thought he had a knife or gun or something like that. I didn’t know he had no mason’s trowel. I wouldn’t have been scared if I’d known he had no mason’s trowel. You understand what I mean?”

Young woman sitting near me is trying not to laugh. She sets me off so I have to look down, too.

I don’t want to smile. I don’t want anyone to smile. If he sees us, what will he do?

Dark Man jumps up suddenly, mad at something. Throws things at floor and bus seats. Slams his hands hard on the seat back.

The bus comes to the next stop. He gets off.

I start to breathe.

Phew That Was Close


What kind of Christmas story was THAT?! A true one. I copied it almost word-for-word from notes I hurriedly scribbled on the bus right after it happened, because I didn’t want to forget.

If you drive a car, you have another reason to be happy this Christmas. Think about that the next time you’re stuck in traffic.
(But only if you want to.)


Leave a comment


  1. You posted it. Hooray! πŸ™‚
    The reality is that as much as we might wish it, Christmas isn’t all peace and love for everybody. This story makes those of us who do appreciate what we may take for granted.
    Trivia: I once spent a Christmas in Ohio. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the joys of inner-city mass transportation. It is what made me buy a truck and move to the country. I remember the howlers, the screamers, the karaoke fiends, the people who had no idea what they were going to do next. There are three places where you see this kind of behavior: dog kennels, prisons and inner-city buses.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ahhh…the joy of riding the bus!!!i remember one trip where this nasty drunk got on…he got stupid. that bus driver told him to sit and be quiet. he told her to go to hell. more stupid drunk, but she was calling metro cops. he then called the bus driver some choice words. bad choice. she went ghetto, stopped that bus and proceeded to extract that fool from the bus. cops showed up. drunk resisted his removal, and drained his bladder. tazed. cop got hit, hard. tazed. finally removed. total silence, then standing ovation

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, J-Dawg!

      Now, see? That there is a true Christmas spirit story–the way everybody came together there at the end, in peace and harmony!
      That deserves a two Christmas ornament hat salute:
      πŸ’‘ πŸ’‘

      Merry Christmas to you, or whatever holiday you may (or may have) celebrate(d)!

      –O. Babe

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yemie

     /  2015/12/22

    This is the most bizzarre Christmas tale yet! Some oddballs there with their own quirks and oddities! I mean, who in their right minds stand up to a ‘trowel wielding’ stranger?! Who’s to say he wouldn’t put that trowel to some ‘evil’ use huh?! Plus, having ‘survived’ an ordeal pretty uncanny, I’d think the Darkman would sit back and enjoy the ride to his stop but what does he do? He starts spoiling for a fight; like he’s a lit fuse looking to go off….venting on absolute strangers! That awkward moment you’re trying to get attention from someone who could give less a hoot and then you go on to grabbing the next available seat….sucking it up! Youch! Must be real excruciating! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

    Whatever made that bus driver ignore the drama unfolding, must be that he’s experienced scenes like these play out a countless number of times! Maybe if he’d butted in, things may have escalated pretty quickly and not died a natural death as registered here! πŸ˜‚

    Some dark tale this is Babe, almost like a scene from a wacky flick; stranger than fiction! Glad you disembarked at your stop with no incidences….Twisted!!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yemi, if you read Greg’s comment, you’ll see that it is true that scary scenes are not uncommon in American cities on buses. Some will claim otherwise. It all depends where they live and what bus routes, and parts of those routes, they get to–or have to-ride.

      There was a scandal decades back when it was learned that some mental institutions were mistreating their patients. The outcome led to a feeling that any locking up of the mentally ill was cruel. Thus, we live with them around us–some doing well, either integrated or in group homes, but many unmedicated for their mental or physical illnesses (including drug-resistant TB), filthy, publicly urinating and defecating, and sometimes dangerous.

      The two men in this story–and other true stories on other busses–spread a particularly dangerous highly-contagious disease of stress and fear. I admire tremendously those who grow up poor in cities here and remain kind and cheerful. They are amazing people.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yemie

     /  2015/12/22

    Oh Wow! That’s pretty unsettling news that one can only pray and wish upon a star to not be at the wrong place at the wrong time with folks like that roaming free! With cases like these, its so easy to be plagued by paranoia that someone in someplace at some point in time may just snap and do the unthinkable….that’s scary! The authorities ought to do more to protect citizens before someone winds up hurt!



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