Few teeth, plenty of advice.


I deviated from my normal bus route and took a dive into a seedy part of town to do an interview for class.  Many of you already know that I am Dysnavic: a word I invented to describe my complete and utter lack of ability to navigate my way out of a paper bag.  To accommodate for my disability, I brought several hard-copies of my route, an iPod with photographs of the map, and had memorized every square inch of it.  There was no way I would get lost.

As I approached the bus stop, a chunky old man missing most of his front teeth greeted me, invited me to sit in the 3 inches remaining next to him on the bench, and asked me where I was going.

Toothless boy

Missing teeth is not always a bad thing.

“I’m taking the 11 down to Cedar Bluff.”

He looked at me like I was on crack.  “What business do you have down in Cedar Bluff?”

“I’ve got an appointment at the BCDG.”

“What’s that?”

At this point, I realized that this was not a conversation I had meant to get myself into.  Sharing details about public transportation destinations with strangers is not always the safest idea.  I needed to send anti-social vibes quickly.  “I have no idea.”

“What are you going to do there?”

“I don’t know.”

Though these answers seemed pretty deflective to me, they didn’t phase him one bit.

“Oh, you know you can take the 19 to get down there, it goes to Cedar Bluff too.”

This was obviously not going in the direction I had hoped.  The last thing I needed was for him to introduce new information about bus routes to my already strained, Dysnavic brain.  “Well, my map says to take the 11, so that’s where I’m going.”

“No, you should take the 19.  It’s a better route.  It takes you to…”  He then proceeded to list every single bus stop, street, alley, monument, and sidewalk crack along the way, “…. and then it will drop you off right in front of the zoo.”

My head was swimming, various bus stops swooped in and out of my thoughts.  I frantically tried to keep all the information about my own route afloat.  “But, I don’t want to go to the zoo, so I think I’m going to stick with the 11.”

“Why don’t you want to go to the zoo?”

I wasn’t sure why I was even still engaging the communication.  But, he was trying to be helpful, and I couldn’t help but at least put up a guise of politeness.  “I’m not sure.”

I endured approximately 15 to 20 minutes of “conversation” with this guy.  It was rife with topic starters like, “Did you hear that one story about the guy?”  To which I would reply with a blank stare and wait for the news story — complete with fabricated details — to come tumbling out of his mouth.

It was one of my more stressful interactions at the bus stops.  And for the record, I did not get lost!!!


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