SEPTA GIRL: Brassiere & Loathing On The 55


BY PHILLYGRRL Day three. The lady on the 55 bus couldn’t find the 75 cents she needed for a transfer. So she started looking. The front half of the bus stared in fascination as she dipped down low into her expansive bosom and fished in her white bra. From under her teal shirt up came a cell phone. Out came several tokens and some slips of paper. The lady moved her hand slowly, leisurely through the cups, oblivious to the stares and the murmurs from the elderly ladies to the right and left of me. “Now that’s a damn shame,” muttered the lady to my left. Finally, with a crow of delight, bra lady pulled out enough quarters. Just then, her cell phone rang. Heads turned again as she pulled it out. “Hello?” she said. “Call me later, I’m on the 55.”

SeptaGirl_520_1.jpgDay two. I’m sitting on the corner of Cheltenham and York roads, waiting at the bus stop for the 55. The bus is late. It the middle of the day, close to 90 degrees and I can feel my cell phone heating up in my hand, despite the shade I’m sitting in. An elderly Korean lady comes by, with her hands folded by the small of her back. She walks past me. Then she turns around and walks by me again. On the second pass she comes close to me. Too close. She puts her face inches away from mine, as if she’s suddenly recognized someone she knows. “Can I help you,” I ask. She starts talking. I can’t understand her. No doubt she’s an escapee from the nursing home down the block. She leaves, but only after doing a little dance and motioning to me once or twice excitedly, all the while giggling to herself.

Minutes later, another Korean woman sits beside me. Despite the weather, she wears nylons under her sandals. A gold cross hangs from her neck. Her hair is dyed black and she is wearing shocking pink lipstick that matches her pink plastic bag which matches her pink shirt. First thing she says to me? “Are you a Christian?” Then she hands me a tract. There’s a poem about Jesus. “I love Jesus,” she tells me. She begins singing “Hallelujah, hallelujah.” Then she opens her bag. It’s filled to the brim with the same tract. “I go on bus, telling about Jesus.” She says. I think back to the Bible lady description I wrote last week and sigh. She begins humming ‘Amazing Grace.’

Day one. I can hear the man talking loudly to a passenger behind me, but I’m not listening until he says “I hate those damn Indians.” I turn. He isn’t looking at me, but some of the people around me are. “I hate Indians,” he says. “Mexicans be good, they work hard, but I hate me them Indians with their 7-11s and their attitude.” The woman beside me wearing the straw hat tsks him and gives me a sympathetic look. I shrug. “Look,” he continues, “I’m sorry, It ’s been a long day. I’m tired.”

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