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••• The International Writers Magazine - 21 Years on-line - Living in San Francisco

No Dancing in the Aisle on this Bus
• Michael Chacko Daniels

San Francisco Bus

“Hold on! Please sit down,” says the driver of the municipal bus at Fifth and Market in San Francisco, as I’m easing into a front seat reserved for seniors and disabled passengers with my load of three bags of farmers market produce. Did he just address me? I wonder.

“Got you,” says a smiling, rail-thin, grey-bearded man with a cane, who is delicately squeezing between the yellow stanchion and me.

“Seniors, wait till the bus stops before you get up to get off; every 19 minutes a senior dies in America from a fall,” the driver says.

“So there’s no dancing in the aisle on this bus,” says my neighbor, his smile growing.

“He’s probably warning me not to do the dance I did last time I rode his bus when he slammed the brakes after a ride-hail car cut him off,” I say.

“No, no, my friend,” says the thin man. “He says that whenever I board his bus. He almost had a heart attack a few weeks ago when I fell and did a judo bounce back up.”

I look at his cane.

“Oh, that?” he says. “It’s to take the load off my plantar fasciitis . . . I’m no shrinking violet. Began judo practice when I was sixteen, dancing, too. During the Cold War, I danced from Afghanistan to Mongolia to improve U.S.-Asia relations. I’ve done the *garba1 in India, but I can’t say our relations improved, at least not then.”

I smile, dreading any reminiscing about his Cold Warrior days and India’s tilted neutrality.

“So long, my friend; this is my stop,” the thin man says, rising sprightly.

He moves with a jerky movement to the front exit. The door opens; cane raised to his bus audience, the thin man begins to deboard. The door closes on his shoulders and springs back automatically as it is designed to do. He’s ejected as if from a catapult, his cane flying; his right hand stretches out to break his fall, protect his head.

“Some people never learn,” says the driver, getting out of his seat. “This bus is now out of service. I have to follow procedure and write an incident report.”

As the remaining passengers and I exit from the rear door, the driver leaves from the front, armed with a clipboard and approaches the passenger, who has bounced back up and is dusting himself off.

“My supervisor is on the way,” the driver says.

The thin man shakes his head.

“I have to follow procedure, write an incident report,” the driver insists. “An ambulance is on its way to take you to a hospital to check you out.”

The thin man shakes his head, says, “No incident report for me; no ambulance either. I’m fine. You closed the bus door too soon. You shouldn’t have. But I get it: No dancing in the aisle on your bus.”

© Michael Chacko Daniels 24.Feb. 2020

Michael lives and writes in San Francisco. He grew up in Bombay.

* Garba is a dance that originated in Gujarat State, India. The tradition is to perform the garba dance during Navar?tr?, a nine-day Hindu festival.

Fruit for the Gods
Michael Chacko Daniels
Fuyu, I sink teeth
into and eat skin and all.
Hachiya, I gulp.

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