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Got a Light?

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You have to pay for the ride, but the on-board entertainment comes free.

Riding the bus home late one afternoon, I was engaged in a conversation with a friend of mine sitting next to me. In such circumstances, I tend to stay generally aware of who is around me and what's happening. Consequently, I noticed a nondescript Caucasian man, probably in his forties.

He boarded the bus and shuffled past the crowd that made up the first few rows. He wore a T-shirt, tucked into his jeans, and a flannel button-down shirt over it, unbuttoned, and untucked—apparently making something of a jacket of it. He was just a regular guy rather than an elegant gentleman. I noticed one final detail: thrift, as could be inferred from the cigarette tucked behind his ear. This was no ordinary cigarette, but a short one, suggesting that he had started it at the bus stop, extinguishing it upon the arrival of the bus with an intention to restart it later.

Having exhausted my interest in the new fellow-passenger, I refocused my attention upon my friend. Our conversation was interrupted again by male voices behind us calling forward, “Yo, yo, dude!” Looking up, I saw that the cigarette was still smoldering and had begun to catch on the smoker's hair. A teenaged girl with dark skin, wearing denim and a baby-tee suddenly got very excited, screaming and pointing, all while trying to tell him that his hair was catching on fire.

The smoker reached up behind his ear—the wrong one— several times while the commotion continued. Finally, one of the men behind us came forward and pulled the smoking cigarette from behind his right ear and handed it to him just as the smoke really began to kick up in volume and density.

Imagining that laughing openly might be considered ill-mannered, or at least not very nice, I tried to avoid it. I failed utterly.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-09-14 09:22 AM
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