As soon as the bus door folded open I could hear him!
“WOW! Looky here!” he shouted as I stepped on to the “no-step” bus. He was seated in the elevated front passenger seat, looking down at me. “A goddamn foreigner! And black, too! How goes it, brother? Haha! What the hell are you doing on a bus in Japan?”
The bus driver’s eyes met mine as I slapped the sensor with my PASMO card. He looked like he wanted to apologize for the man hollering in my ear. I ignored him, too.
As I passed the nutcase chucks me way too familiarly on the shoulder and said something with a lot of rolling R’s that I couldn’t catch. His Japanese sounded like that old-man Tokyo-Ben that only old Japanese men fully get. Then, he laughed contemptuously, which riled me.
That Fucker touched me…
I kept it moving, though. I was well within my rights to stop and give him an RTA Uppercut, according to Loco’s law. And I wanted to, badly, but with my luck I’d probably get Youtube’d, arrested and deported, and I just knew he wasn’t worth it.
I walked to about the middle of the bus and squeezed my wide frame into a seat, the driver waiting patiently til I was seated before pulling off.
I could see now that the shouting man was middle aged for Japanese — maybe 65 or so — and if I had clocked him they wouldn’t have deported me…at least not until I had rotted under a Japanese jail first. I could still feel where he’d trespassed on my personal space, though. It ached with the violation.
I turned to my side and caught a glimpse of the remnants of the man sitting across the aisle from me giving me the J-eye before turning away. Some of the other passengers, as well, though their eyes now stared blankly unfixed into the airspace in my vicinity.
At the next stop, through the window, I watched as 5 people who were queued to board the bus began to do so. As the door opened, the jerk in the front seat got a phone call.
“What? WHAT?? DON’T CALL ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT!”
The first boarding passengers caught the brunt of “BULLSHIT!” full blast right upside their noggins. But they, too, promptly ignored the man. Didn’t even look at him. I realized in a flash how Japanese-like my reaction to him had been. Even two years ago I would have at least glanced. I mean, you’d think he was a regular occurrence, a daily annoyance. But, I’d been riding this bus in two-week intervals every morning since March, so I knew he wasn’t.
Though he continued this conversation at maximum volume as they boarded the bus, I still drew more attention than he. It was like they were trying to figure out how I was somehow the cause for the disruption of this generally peaceful commute. At least that was my read. I really don’t think very highly of Japanese thinking patterns so I tend to assess them derogatorily based on their general behavior.
Sometimes there isn’t much more to go on than that.
A few minutes of loud obscenity-strewn Japanese passed before the bus driver apparently had had enough. Screaming in the ear, speaking insultingly and assaulting foreigners is one thing but embarrassing the race and disrupting the Wa of Japanese passengers was quite another!
“I beg your pardon, Sir. Would it be too much trouble for you to refrain from talking on the phone on the bus? After all it is against…”
“SHUT THE HELL UP AND DRIVE THE BUS, BUS DRIVER!!”
I let slip some laughter. He’d caught me off guard. I’d heard my kids at work use some of the words he was throwing at the person he was speaking to on the phone and now at the bus driver, but I’d rarely hear adults using them. A couple of the passengers who’d boarded glimpsed my mirth and gave me dirty looks. I shrugged and smiled at them. Don’t blame me…he’s the asshole!
“Please sir, refrain from using such language or I’ll have to…”
“DRIVE THE FUCKING BUS, NOW! I GOT BUSINESS IN YOKOHAMA. DON’T MAKE ME LATE!”
“If you would, please do me a favor and end your phone conversation now,and stop disturbing the passengers,” the driver said calmly.
From the elevated front seat, the asshole leaned over the railing and jabbed his finger at the driver.
“I TOLD YOU TO SHUT THE HELL UP AND DRIVE THE BUS! IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU AGAIN…”
The door sprung closed and the bus pulled off. The asshole continued his phone conversation as the driver fumed.
At the next stop, more passengers boarded. When the asshole let out a sudden outburst, one of the passengers liked to jump over the cash box and into the driver’s lap. The asshole laughed and I let it be known with a hardly repressed guffaw that I found it funny, as well.
Again some of the seated passengers gave me a look when they heard the laughter (I realized then) I probably could have but refused to withhold.
Why the hell was I laughing? It was funny, sure, but I knew my laughter was inappropriate, and that none of my fellow passengers would find humor in the situation.
“PLEASE sir!” the driver said, looking pushed to the limits of his patience. “How many times must I tell you? You must obey the rules or exit the bus.”
The asshole wasn’t even listening…he was enjoying his conversation with his friend on the phone.
“HOLD A SEC,” he said into the phone, then turned on the driver. “Oh,you’re a tough guy, ne. You’re trying to make me look bad? You fucking prick! You think it’s your job to embarrass me?”
He jerked his head around and scanned the interior of the bus, and gave all the passengers threatening looks…at least by Japanese standards. I thought he looked goofy and contemplated taking a picture of him. Of course, none of the passengers met his eyes…except me.
Our eyes locked for a long second. When he saw that I wasn’t about to unlock mine and turn away first, he went ahead and turned back to the driver.
“I’ll call you later,” he said into the phone while staring at the side of the driver’s masked face as he put his phone away.
“Sumimasen…” the driver said curtly, closed the door and drove off.