Sometimes, the 84 pulls up at the stop for the 81. It has the same headsign as the 81, "Eagle Rock Plaza". I'm often tempted to just get on the 84 and hope for the best, but I haven't yet made that leap of faith.
It's a lovely evening in Downtown Los Angeles. The sky is the rich royal blue of early evening, suffused with the glow of the city grid.
The bus is finally here. It's packed tonight at 7:39 p.m. There's a man in neat clothes standing in front of me holding a bag filled with empty soda cans. The hefty woman next to me in sweats has a tiny pink phone in her ear and smells like cigarettes and pot. I think she is reading this over my shoulder as I type. She's scrolling through contacts on another phone in her hands.
The driver of the 81 tonight is the same driver we interviewed on the Throwback Edition last week. True to form, he nearly flipped the bus on the 110 just now.
The Bus TV is playing the cooking show that often runs on the evening rides - the one where the two guys dress up in theme according to what they are preparing. Tonight they're wearing Star Trek: The Next Generation uniforms and standing in front of a spacey background. I can't make out what they are cooking.
The woman in sweats is now talking on the tiny phone in her ear. She's telling her friend that "I tried to call you but my phone was dead.". Which phone? I wonder. She's describing a first date: it sounds like they went to a movie and then got something to eat. They talked about "all sorts of stuff.". Apparently, they talked discussed a prior girlfriend: "He was like really nonchalant: 'Si se llama, me llama.'"
I switched to a seat across the aisle from the woman in sweats and she just gave me and my blackberry a very suspicious look.
We just passed another 81.
For the first time, there's a crying baby on the bus. The 81 smells like roasted chicken tonight.