A Conversation I Heard on the Bus

I boarded the 40 around noon on Thursday and there weren’t many people on it, but there was a woman with sensible pink lipstick and cropped gray hair and a pleasant demeanor speaking with a man across the aisle who had a red beard and a dirty reusable grocery bag full of old things and a leather jacket. He had a dog with him but the dog was under the seat so I didn’t see it till he disembarked at Market.

“I’m heading to an appointment,” the woman was saying as I found my seat. It was quiet on the bus and her voice carried. “But I got on the wrong bus. I’m used to going the other direction on this one. I’m going to the doctor. For ten years I couldn’t walk but the good Lord healed my leg so I can walk again.”

“How ’bout.”

“But I’ve still got this problem with my joints.”

“My dog’s legs aren’t so good,” said the man, indicating his dog. “She’s a sweetie, though. She’s old.”

“I have had no luck with dogs,” the woman replied. “The first one I had, the day we got it, it ran out in the street and a car hit it and it died. The second one ate the couch.”

Everyone else on the bus who had been pretending not to hear her burst into snorts and chuckles. She didn’t mind or notice.

“That’s the end of that dog,” said the man.

“And the third bit my son.”

“That one’s gotta go.”

“So I don’t do dogs.”

A man sitting in front of me, who had been wearing ear buds and looking out the window, removed one of them and leaned forward.

“When I was growing up,” he said, “we had this big-ass German Shepherd who used to sleep on my chest, put his paws right here. So at night I have nightmares.”

“Last time I had a dog before this one was 20 years ago,” the man with the red beard said.  We were at Market and he was standing and gathering his things, and I saw his dog, a squat, old mutt with cookies and cream fur. “This one saved my life twice. Once on a boat!”


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