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The Bus Driver
A Case Study in Negotiating with Power Holders

This past Friday night the bus started to pass me by as I waved it down, so I stepped out in front of it.

The driver avoided me and pulled off 30 yards down and opened the door. I hobbled over and got on, put my money in and said nothing.

He did not apologize.

I did not thank him for pulling over.

Was he one of these black bus drivers that hates whitey?

There have been fewer of them acting on this hatred since the bus system was changed up, for the reason [or so I suppose] that at night, so few blacks are taking the bus, opting for UBER and LYFT instead, that they deal primarily with a white clientele.

On the bus was a single black girl who got off with an old white guy at the stop, which left two of us old whites on there. He is a regular, her not. She asked him to walk together as she was afraid and he agreed, a 60 year old white man escorting a 20-year-old black female nerd with her pink teddy bear backpack. The driver and he were extra cordial, which signaled that I had read the driver wrong.

Throughout the moving night one black woman and two older white men and two younger white men would board. That was it. Young black working men have been hunted to extinction and now take cars rides of some kind. It’s just too dangerous.

He went out of his way to be courteous to the other whites.

Could this be the one driver who hates me alone, and loves the other whites, the guy who used to make me walk out into the street when he did stop?

He did look similar, but I cannot recall. He had a lot of seniority to be on a night run, but this guy was his age and size.

This driver literally has your life in his hands, can pick you up or not and it is not good to be at odds with the guy who has his own police force to back him up.

It was my time to get off and another bus was turning through the transfer point, possibly going my way and the driver offers, “Sir, do you need me to stop that bus for you?”

I said, “No, thank you, sir,” and offloaded as we wished each other a safe night.

As it turns out we had both assumed that the other placed a negative interpretation on our first interaction of the night. I too, have his life in my hands. His passengers are few. Driving a bus alone at night is creeping a lot of these guys out. It really is a ghostly type of apocalypse by night on Baltimore Area mass transit.

It came to pass that he did more subtle stuff than I to reassure me that he had just been lulled into apathy by making so many stops, this being the reason for missed passengers most common now, as the drivers robotically go through runs that feature so few live stops. Of course, he had more opportunities to show his good will than I did.

The point of this brief slice of socially dysfunctional human interaction on my part, is to remind me to be more overtly courteous. I was a tad pissed, otherwise would have thanked him for picking me up. Perhaps something showed through in my body language and he was too proud or too cautious to wax apologetic?

As a man makes his way, first learning about and assembling the shards of his being, then waxing confident in his prime, and finally trying to adjust to his ongoing dissolution, life is a constant struggle in knowing the human landscape for what it currently is in relation to his condition and acting in concord, opposition or subversion, depending on our natures.

Masculine Axis: A Meditation on Manhood and Heroism

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