The Magical M60 (orig. published May 21, 2011)

The M60 bus goes from LaGuardia airport, in Queens, then across Manhattan on 125th Street (through Harlem), then downtown via Broadway. I’m not actually certain how far south it goes, since I always exit at 119th. But anyway, like all NYC buses, it has a diverse and interesting passenger manifest.

On the particular Thursday in question, I was on my way home, midmorning, minding my own business. We were going crosstown on 125th. And a mentally unbalanced man got on, but he was one of those good-natured crazies, whose craziness chiefly manifests in a remarkable obliviousness to a) social norms and etiquette and b) the fact that nobody wants to talk to him. A harmless guy who thinks everybody is his friend. A little on the slow side, maybe a little drunk, but, you know, whatever.

He started out by informing the bus in general that it was going to snow that night. In late May, in NYC. The weather the past couple days has been rainy, but by no stretch of the imagination has it been cold. I assume that the snow was meant to be an early harbinger of the coming apocalypse. (Speaking of which, I suppose this might be my last ever entry. It’s been nice to know you, LiveJournal.) Eventually, he started addressing individual passengers and, like many crazies of his particular species, managed to address himself almost exclusively to young female passengers.

He started out by picking a young woman, who looked Latina, and asked her if she spoke Spanish. She affirmed that she did (just for context’s sake, the guy in question looked Hispanic to me, so this wasn’t as ignorant and blunt a question as it might sound). Then he asked the girl next to the Latina girl (the two had been talking and were clearly friends) if she spoke Spanish. She also said that she did. “You’re African though, right?” he said. “You look African. I think you’re African.”

Without missing a beat, the girl deadpanned, “No. I’m Chinese.” (This was a patently ridiculous and brilliant statement, as the girl’s dark chocolate skin and cornrows somewhat belied her claim to be East Asian.)

“Ohhhhh you’re Chinese,” said the man, either not realizing or not caring that she was bullshitting him.

“Yup. Chinese.” (A Chinese person who speaks English and Spanish. It just keeps getting better and better.)

He went back to rambling about the upcoming snow and secret messages in the Bible. The girls, who I’m pretty sure were still in high school, were remarkably calm and centered about the whole thing. I caught them giggling at each other a little, but they just kept confirming to the guy that yes, they both spoke Spanish, and yes, the one black girl was actually Chinese.

The guy eventually exited the bus wishing everyone a most excellent and blessed day, and advised us to read our Bibles. And then he turned to a girl at the back of the bus and said, “Miss! Miss, you dropped something! You dropped something, miss! It’s my heart, it’s there on the floor!” And off he went. I cast a glance at the girl who had gone and dropped his heart on a dirty bus floor, she was my age or a little younger, thin and mousey, wearing a cardigan and reading a book and looking like she couldn’t decide if she was amused or terrified.

I love New York City public transportation.

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