Q19 Crazy Lady

When I have the good fortune of making the Q19 bus in time to get to work at a decent hour, there is often a woman there who in equal parts amuses me and embarrasses me.

She always sits in a window seat reading a dog-eared bible. I won’t notice she’s there until she folds back a page of the Good Book and declares to the bus-folk around her, “Mmmmm… o-o-o-h boy!”

A few people turn to look where the noise comes from, including myself. I usually end up standing on this bus, so I can see her clearly. She just looks down at her bible and once or twice more loudly repeats an emphatic “O-o-o-o-oh mmmmmbo-eee!” and follows it by clicking her tongue just as loudly:

“Tck tck tck tck tck tck tck tck tck tck tck!”

It’s the sound an old person might make while digging in her teeth with a toothpick, rocking in a chair on the front porch.

On public transportation, such outbursts are disquieting but widely ignored to the best of our ability. If she knows she is startling half of the passengers around her, she doesn’t let on. If she has any notion that she is making the lady sitting next to her nervous, darting her widened eyes toward her, expecting perhaps a small forest creature to leap out of her chest cavity, she does not let on. She does not seem to realize that anyone has noticed anything at all, let alone that she has made any sort of loud, incongruous, inappropriate and inexplicable noise at all.

She turns another page of her bible and resumes reading silently. We all downshift from orange alert to yellow. And then a few minutes later: “Mmmmmmmm! Mmmmmbo-o-o-o-o-ay! Tck tck tck tck tck tck tck tck!”

She really puts some effort into it, distorting her voice, getting a little raspy, a little throaty. Like she’s out back picking tomatoes off the vine in the blazing sun, and she’s tugging at her collar and pulling her wide-brimmed straw hat back off her neck to mop her forehead with a worn bandana. One almost expects a “Would you just look at that! Hoo… lawd!

Is it something she’s read? Is she regarding the sins of mankind? Has she remembered that she left the coffee maker on back home? Is this what Tourette Syndrom looks like?

Then again: “Mmmmmmmmmbo-o-o-o-o-eeee! Tck tck tck tck tck tck tck!”

She never looks up from the book. She doesn’t shake her head. She doesn’t take notice of anyone or anything around her. She just continues reading her book and making loud exclamations to no one.

She looks so normal. Cute, tightly curled hair arching out in all directions. Flawless, mocha skin. Manicured but unpolished fingernails. Just enough makeup to bring out some contrast in her features. Nice, cool, conservative floral printed skirt and sleeveless sweater: you know… beige, black, salmon.

And, remember: She’s reading a Bible. Totally harmless. I’m not so sure.


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