I was waiting for the bus yesterday and there was a man leaning against the wall of a building smoking a cigar. I inhaled several deep breaths of the obnoxiously crisp spring air, and noticed that this man's cigar smelled oddly like pot. I looked over again and, yes, he was in fact smoking a cigar (a nasty Swisher Sweets to be more specific). So why the hell did it smell so much like pot?
After several moments of probably-not-as-discreet-as-I'd-like people watching, I caught on to this guys gimmick: he had a very small blunt in one hand, and a cigar in the other. He was smoking pot and attempting to mask the scent with his cigar.
For someone who has never smoked, nor had any interest in smoking, pot this fascinated me to no end. I was awestruck. And I began to realize that my fascination had nothing to do with each hit he took, but rather that this man was the epitome of everything that enthralls me about riding public transportation.
Yes, the bus. The place where the greatest people watching of all takes place. A cornucopia of bobbing heads on a conveyor-belt of daily monotony.
There is nothing that puts people on an even playing field quite like public transportation. In one seat you have the young-"proffesional" making minimum wage as an intern, and the next you have the middle-aged man making minimum wage as a burger flipper.
In one seat you have the college sophomore who spends too much time worrying about inevitable trivialities, and in the next you have the 55-year-old woman who has gone back to school fully aware that trivialities aren't worth a second thought.
The bus is a social experiment -- like the Real World, just with slightly less booze and sex. Well, less sex at least.
When you look around at all these people on the bus, you realize each one has a story to tell. Each one started some place. Each one has a past, a present, and a future. In the most simplistic sense, everyone on the bus is exactly the same, but completely different.
Take the dual-wielding smoker, for example. Where did he come from?
I spent an inordinate amount of time studying this man, for the both the obviously fascinating is that man blatantly smoking pot in downtown Minneapolis? reason, and because he highlighted the unique characterization of a bus rider.
Here is a guy leaning against a wall, probably somewhere in his 30s, openly representing something most people would never want to be: a dual smoking bus rider. Not exactly the epitome of the American Dream.
As I sit thinking about this random man I will most likely will never see again (and wouldn't recognize if I did) I can't help but wonder about his life. I mean, he really can't be that much different than you or I. He has most likely spent his whole life doing many of the same things as everyone else:
Chasing a job. Chasing a girl. Chasing something that seems out of reach (likely a job or a girl).
Or maybe just chasing the bus.
Whatever the case may be, it is undeniable that this man, like all bus riders, has an interesting story to tell. And the most interesting thing may be that this bus riding pot smoker's story, is actually completely ordinary.
And that is exactly what the bus does. It brings together the most eclectic group of people possible and shows them how similar they really are.