D Line Avengers Assemble

By: Jacob Lewis

This is a story about a team of super heroes. Not so much a collection of armored inventors, Norse gods, and people who like bows and arrows, but more of a collection of a odd and crazy people I meet on my bus each day. In other words, slightly less imposing than two of the aforementioned Avengers.

I take the D Line bus every day to work and I cannot stress enough how much I hate interacting with other people on the ride. It’s not a fear or an aversion to human contact; I just don’t like doing it. When I get on the bus I put my earbuds on, regardless of whether there is music coming through my phone, and I wait out the trip in my own bubble of solitude. Sometimes other riders still feel the need to communicate with me and I hear comments like:

“Would you mind moving, I have a bad leg”

“Do you know what the next stop is”

“You’re standing on my dog’s head”

“That’s my baby! Why are you taking my baby!”

[Answer Key: 1. Sure; 2. Nope; 3. Why else would I be standing here; 4. Not Anymore and None of your Concern]

These interactions are unavoidable and while I hate the, I would have to be a complete narcissist to feel any sort of anger or animosity to the human beings that cause them.
However, not all of the interactions I experience fall into this category. There are a few people I am forced to interact with on my ride to work that try to draw me into far stranger tides. While I like these interactions less, the people who cause them are far more interesting characters than my regular bus riding companions and they have actually left an impression on me. Rather than faces in the crowd, they are like interesting reoccurring characters that entertain me at times and annoy me at others.

The ones relevant to this story are as follows. Their names have been changed to protect the…I don’t know their real names.

Commentary Man

Commentary Man always sits at the very front of the bus. Why? So he can comment on everybody who gets on board. His commentary is about 85% observations and 15% insulting madness and always targets the person’s most obvious characteristic. Some examples:

Fat person. “This person looks like he could lose a pound or some. Ten pack of crayon eating mother fucker”

Person with baby carriage. “This isn’t a garage mother fucker. Not on this bus at least“

Person talking on cell phone. “This person isn’t talking to me, but we can all still hear her. Turn that phone off, but don’t you even try to talk to me mother fucker.”

My only direct interaction with Commentary Man was very brief. I got on the bus and as I passed him he said, “Nice tie…for a white mother fucker.” Equivocation aside, I liked the compliment. It had been a father’s day gift from one of my daughters.

The Negater

The Negater is a skinny middle aged woman who never says a word. Her defining characteristic is her ability to negate some one’s personal space. For example, if you’re watching something on a phone, she will lean in to watch with you. If you are listening to music she will dance along with the snippets of the sound she catches from your earbuds. If she likes it she will do anything to get your attention so she can give you the thumbs up. Also, if you have a child or a dog she will be all over it, and I have seen her almost get punched in the face for trying to rustle a kid’s hair. Now, if she did try to touch my kids without my permission I think my go to response would be to hit her with a briefcase until she could no longer be considered solid matter, but I have no real issue with her. She even complimented me once on my choice of music. Of course, it was Cult of Personality by Living Color, so why wouldn’t she.

The Pariah

You know how the Star Wars movies will throw in a random character in the background, and all the fans go, “wow, I wonder what that guy/gal is all about” and then produce 50,000 toys, novels and comic books outlining how they are actually the most important person in the galaxy. Those fans are idiots. Not just because they are being willingly exploited by companies who have learned to treat fan devotion as a commodity, but because their time should be spent trying to figure out the back story of the Pariah. If I had a choice of receiving absolute knowledge of the purpose of the universe or a 5 minute summary of the Pariah’s back story, it wouldn’t even be a contest. I would pick the first and sell that knowledge to the highest bidder. However, there would be a hesitation, and that should say something about the Pariah. The Pariah is a man about the same age as me, a little skinnier, and slightly less ruggedly handsome. He always seems to have a burning desire to sit next to people he already knows, which includes most of the homeless people on the bus. They all know him too.

And they fucking HATE him.

He will great them with a “good morning” or a “nice to see you” and they will respond by saying “sit somewhere else” or “get the fuck away from me.” I have never seen this type of reaction before. I’ve also never never seen him do anything strange or out of the ordinary and he’s been nothing but pleasant to everyone he interacts with. However, he’s always met with such ire that there must be something about him that I don’t know. Is he just the Meg or Dr. Zoidberg of the Seattle homeless community, where experiencing this hatred is just his lot in life. Or, did he do….something. When he gets on my bus I will literally spend the entire ride imagining the possibilities of his past. Did he kill someone? Did he kill a lot of someones? Is he a rapist? Is he the Hamburgler? Did he rape the Hamburgler? Did he steal fire from the gods?

What did you do Pariah? Whatever did you do?

The Duffeller

The Duffeller is not a very complicated fellow. He comes on the bus with no less than three giant duffle bags and uses them to take up the maximum amount of room possible. I’m not just saying he piles them on the seats next to him. I’m pretty sure you could get the country’s best mathematicians (probably me and two other guys) and if they studied his duffel bag splaying patterns, they would find that it would be physically impossible for his belongings to take up more seat space without ripping a whole in space time. Also, nobody ever asks him to move his bags, even when the bus is packed.

Dog Guy

Dog Guy always brings his muddy dog on the bus and allows it to jump on anyone he pleases. I’ve written about him before in this article. He doesn’t bug me anymore, ever since I threatened to crush his dog’s head with my boot, but I still see him every day and I make damn sure that he sees me.

The reason I am outlining these personalities is that on Sunday, for the first time ever, they were all on the same bus at the same time. More importantly, I was on that bus too.

It all started when I was waiting for the D Line. The Negater was waiting at my stop too, trying to get peeks at the episode of Family Guy I was watching on my phone and dancing along to the image of Peter and friends singing about Tinder. When I got on the bus, the Duffeller, Commentary Man and Dog Guy were already on the bus sitting across from each other at the front. Two stops later, the Pariah got on, and after attempting to sit next to the Duffeller, took a seat next to Dog Guy, who had no opinion on the matter (Dog Guy isn’t homeless, he’s just an asshole with a dog, and therefore has no knowledge of the Pariah’s reputation). I secretly hoped the Paraih’s backstory would reveal itself to be an inclination to randomly eat people’s pets in front of their owner and then shit in their hat.

As I watched these people interact I realized that this was my street level Avengers movie. These were all the characters of my daily life coming together and interacting for the first time.

But for what purpose had this team assembled? Well, halfway through my trip my question was answered.

While many of these characters have annoyed me in the past, again, I have no real anger towards any of them. Even Dog Guy changed his behavior towards me after I threatened to kill his beloved pet. However, there is one person I haven’t mentioned who I do actively despise. She has the ability to change a bus ride from a neutral necessity of everyday life into an anger filled slog of shouting and accusations.

I haven’t given her a name, but considering the framing mechanism of this story, let’s just call her…

Thanos

Thanos is a portly middle aged woman who lives in North Ballard. She’s lived there all her life with her mother who suffers from Dementia. Her Father was half Latino and half African American and her mother was white. He Father lives in Idaho and owns a small hardware store. She lives off of Government checks and has Diabetes, which is why she can’t drink regular soda and can only drink canned flavored sparkling water. She has two cats.

I know all this because as soon as she gets on the bus she immediately strikes up a conversation with the first non-homeless person she sees. If they engage, she tells them her life story in a friendly voice and asks them questions about what they are doing today. If they don’t engage, she accuses them of being racist. At the end of the story she asks the person if they can spare some money. If they refuse, she calls them racist and starts accusing them of calling her the N-Word. When the person moves away she waits for someone new to come on the bus; and then repeat. If you try to sit next to her, and don’t look like the kind of person who will give her money, she will accuse you of rubbing against her or touching her, call you a pervert, and demand that you move.

I had one direct interaction with her about a month ago. She asked what I was listening to and if she could have some cash. I said, “no, sorry.” She responded by saying that I looked like a Child Molester and that she had seen my pictures up on telephone poles in the neighborhood (which was a lie, I took those down weeks ago). Fortunately, this happened a minute before I was getting off the bus and I was able to leave the situation while also getting my highly intelligent response in:

“I hope you sleepwalk downstairs tonight and eat and eat entire package of Oreos!”

Yes, that was a Diabetes slam. I don’t care what you think about it, it was clever, even if I was the only one who understood it at the time. I did hope that later that night Thanos suddenly woke from a dream yelling, “Wait, that Mother Fucker just told me to go die of diabetic shock!” Hopefully, it would be said with white cream dripping down her face.

Thanos is the only person on the bus that causes me to change seats when I see her.

Back to the story. The bus stopped and Thanos trundled onboard. I will now do my best to recount the exchange between my D Line Avengers and Thanos.

Commentary Man: Oh Shit, what the fuck are you?

Thanos, not responding to Commentary Man, walks over to the seat partially covered by one of the Duffeller’s bags.

The Duffeller: Excuse me. let me move this out of your way.

Thanos: Get those bags away from me.

The Duffeller: That’s what I’m doing.

As the Duffeller moves one of his bags to the other side of his seat, one of them grazes Thanos’ leg.

Thanos: You just hit me with one of your bags. You did that on purpose…I probably have lice now.

Duffeller: I didn’t hit you and you don’t have lice.

The Duffeller finishes piling his bags to his side. Thanos sits down.

Thanos: Excuse me, that’s a very nice dog you have.

Dog Guy: Thank you.

I turn off my music. I don’t want anyone to district me from this interaction as Thanos begins telling Dog Guy her life story. When the conflict starts in a few minutes I really hope that she doesn’t go with her generic racism or child molestation accusations. He has a dog with him after all. I hope she at least mixes that in to her tirade.

Thanos: …I live on my own now. Its actually my Mother’s birthday so I’m going to take her out to dinner.

It’s always her Mother’s Birthday. I begin crossing my fingers for a “dog fucker” accusation. However, before she can get to the ask…

Commentary Man: None of that is true. None of what she just said is true. She’s lying.

Thanos: Excuse me Bus Driver. This man is harassing me.

Commentary Man: I’ve heard you tell this story a thousand times. None of it’s true. She’s just going to ask you for money. Then she’s going to call you a mother fucking racist.

Thanos: You’re a liar.

Dog Guy starts looking nervous.

Dog Guy: Oh I’m sorry. I don’t have any money.

Commentary Man: Now you’re the liar I saw you take out your wallet to pay for the bus. Just tell her you don’t want to give her any money.

Dog Guy: I really don’t have any money.

Dog Guy takes out his wallet and opens it to show that it is empty. The Negater, who has been quietly sitting a row down from me, walks over to look inside the wallet. She nods in the direction of

Commentary Man, signaling that it is, in fact, empty.

Commentary Man: I apologize, I was incorrect at that assumption.

Commentary Man…surprisingly humble in the face of the evidence that his commentary has been inaccurate. It makes me think that he really tries to put time into his comments and make sure they are accurate remarks about the people he meets during the day. I respect that.

The Negater also nods, in agreement, and starts rubbing the head of Dog Guy’s stupid dog.

The Duffeller: You shouldn’t walk around without money, not everything takes credit cards. I was at this…fuck you doing, go sit somewhere else!

I turn my head to see the Pariah attempting to take a seat next to the Duffeller. Upon his immediate rejection, he takes one a few seats down.

The Pariah: Sorry

Thanos: Excuse me. Bus Driver. These people are harassing me. And this guy with the dog just called me the N-word.

Dog Guy: What….what I….

Dog Guy looks like he is about to cut open his dog’s belly so he can crawl in and hide inside until the whole thing is over.

Commentary Man: He didn’t say shit.

The Duffeller: He didn’t say anything at all. She’s just mad she didn’t get any money.

Dog Guy has now entered a catatonic state. If the Pariah is going to demonstrate his penchant for eating dogs, now would be the perfect time. He wouldn’t be able to stop it. All he could do is watch. But alas, he just sits there.

Thanos: Why are you defending this racist dog fucker.

YES! Score one for proof of the divine answering the prayers of the worthy.

The Duffeller: Because he didn’t do anything. You asked him for money and he didn’t have any and you’re calling him a racist.

Commentary Man: That’s fucked up. That’s fucked up. Thaaaaaat’s fuuuuucked uuuuppp.

Those last two lines were sung by Commentary Man. Hearing the melody, the Negater stopped petting the dog and began snapping her fingers in tune.

Seeing the musical distraction as a moment to strike, the Pariah gets up and tries to sit at the other end of the bus next to Commentary Man.

Commentary Man: Don’t you even think about getting next to me mother fucker.

Bus Driver: Sir you can’t control where someone sits. Are we going to have a problem?

The Pariah sits down next to Commentary Man. Commentary Man does not look pleased and moves his belongings to the opposite side of the seat.

Seriously, what did this guy do? Did he murder his brother with a lamb bone? Is he the plastic surgeon that killed Michael Jackson? Is he Michael Jackson? Come on universe, you gave me the “dog fucker” comment, now give me this!

Things begin to die down on the bus. Thanos takes out some crackers and begins noisily eating them, while the other members of the team ignore her. Dog Guy regains some composure and takes out his cell phone and puts on the Big Bang Theory. I flip through my phone and start up my playlist again. As I’m about to select a new track, the Negater, decides that this party isn’t over yet. She leans over, putting her head almost on Dog Guy’s shoulder, to watch the show and begins laughing out loud.

Thanos sees this, but says nothing as the bus pulls into a stop. I know what’s coming. I’ve seen this tactic before. She waits until new people get on the bus and then starts making new accusations.

The bus stops and a few people get on.

Commentary Man: Theses guys look like they could lift a….

Thanos: Bus Driver! These two people are making racist jokes about me.

Dog Guy looks up and gives the impression of someone who is about to experience an imminent pants shitting. The Negater pays her comments no mind and keeps watching the show and begins doing pantomime of something that I assume is occurring on the screen, pausing only to look around and see if anyone finds what she is doing funny. They don’t. To be fair to the Negater, it’s the

Big Bang Theory so she wasn’t exactly given great material to work with.

Sympathetic Passenger: What is this person saying to you?

Thanos starts talking, but I can’t hear what she’s saying because she is immediately drowned out by Commentary Man, who is likely annoyed that his own insightful comments were interrupted.

Commentary Man: These guys didn’t say shit. They’re just watching their phone laughing at something stupid (ha, take that Big Bang Theory). They’re not laughing at this stupid shit over here.

Less Sympathetic Passenger: Oh…okay.

Thanos: You think just because….

Duffeller: If you think anyone who doesn’t give you money is racist than the whole world must be more racist than you or me combined times four.

I don’t know if the Duffeller’s math checks out, but his sentiment does. The bus stops again and more people get on. Out of left field, the Pariah gets up to great them.

The Pariah: Excuse me, don’t talk to this woman. She is just going to ask you for money and if you don’t give it to her she’s going to start calling….

Dog Guy’s dog growls at the Pariah walks past him. Concerned, he attempts to return to his original seat, but one of the new passenger has already occupied it. He takes one farther back on the bus. A few seconds later I vaguely hear what I imagine is another passenger, saying, “get away from me.”

Jesus, even animals reject the Pariah. Did he piss off a Witch? Is he a Witch? Does he have no soul? Does he have a lot of people’s souls? WHAT THE FUCK DID THIS GUY DO???

Thanos: Bus Driver if you are going to let this happen than I’m going to get off the bus now.

The Bus Driver says nothing and when the bus stops she gets off, but turns around to yell.

Thanos: I bet you fuck children too.

Bus Driver: I wouldn’t take that bet.

I get what the Bus Driver was going for with that response, but I don’t think it came off as intended. It sounded a little too close to “good luck trying to prove that.” He should leave the insightful remarks to Commentary Man.

This happened to be my stop as well so I hopped off after Thanos had cleared the exit. As I was departing I realized that Dog Guy’s stop was usually a few blocks before mine. I guess he was so uncomfortable by what was occurring that he missed hi stop, which is a little sad. But, also, fuck him and his little slacks ruining child scaring dog too.

As the bus doors began to close, Commentary Man yells out to the people sitting next to Thanos at the bus stop.

Commentary Man: All of you, don’t talk to this woman. She’ll take your money and call you a child fucker.

So there you have it. The D Line Avengers formed together to defeat a foe stronger than any one of them combined. Thanos, the bane of Seattle public transit, was forced to retreat and lick her wounds. However, she still lives to fight another day.

Until that time, they wait, for when the world will need them again.

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