Open Eared


The earbuds were a bust. I gave up and took them off, vowing to buy a new set before the end of the day. I’d just have to make due until then.

The inevitable peril of not wearing earbuds while commuting on public transit is the dreaded Conversation. The bus took forever to arrive leaving plenty of time for a fellow rider to see me, compliment my hair, and strike up a Conversation. She was pleasant: older with wrinkled brown skin. The padded hood to her coat was drawn up around her face hiding her hair and she wore sunglasses that hid her eyes. There was a festive holiday pin on the right side of her coat, and she was missing the teeth on the left side of her mouth. At her feet, a flock of blackbirds pecked at the ground with a brazen kind of familiarity.

If ever I were speaking to a sorceress in disguise, then this was it. I resolved to be on my best behavior, lest she smite me with a curse.

My bus arrived at last, but was so late and so crowded I could already see I’d be standing the whole ride. I figured that if I was going to be late anyway, I might as well wait for the next one so I could get a seat and get some writing done.

The witchy woman got on the bus heading north. The next express wasn’t due to arrive for another twenty minutes so I crossed the street to catch the southbound local. The ride was uneventful. I got some good work done.

On my way home in the evening I stopped and bought earbuds at the Walgreens before heading to the bus. Part way along the bike path I could see two of my usual ‘Neighbors’ out visiting. The Neighbors live in their cars: one in a red sedan, and one in a white panel van. They were speaking with a third who lived around the block in a vintage Dodge SUV. I hadn’t seen Dodge or his SUV in several weeks, and had noticed a cascade of broken glass in the place where he normally parked. So I was pleased to see he was well. He was working a security job that took him all over the city. Yes his truck had been broken into- he was thinking of selling it to get a van instead. Over all, though, he seemed in good spirits.

On the bus home I encountered one of my former professors from the USC film school whom I hadn’t seen in some time. We caught up on the goings on on campus and the new changes to the curriculum. Or chat was brief but pleasant. All in all, a very social day of commuting: a rare thing for me who generally prefers to just be left alone, but I can’t say that any of the encounters bothered me, so maybe I’m growing. Who knows.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 8, 2018.

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