The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

What Your Grandmother Missed on This Subway Ride

I schlep the subway into work everyday. Public transportation is always drama. You never know what might erupt in front of your face.

For example, this morning a couple, in their 50’s, came on board. There were no seats for both of them together, so the woman sat in one row, next to a young buck in dark glasses, earphones, a baseball cap and a hoodie, drinking a large coffee in a paper cup. He draped his arm on the backrest of the seat invading the wife’s space.

The husband, in the row behind her, leaned over and told the kid to remove his arm. “Don’t tell me what to do!” the kid said.

The husband barked the order again. Then he repeatedly swiped the kid’s arm. The kid wouldn’t budge. He only got louder. “Take your hands off me!”

This was reality TV happening before our eyes. I looked around to see if anyone was filming this on their smart phone. Others were rubbernecking to see the oncoming explosion.

Not me. I prayed. I didn’t want to arrive at the office with blood-stained clothes.

“I”m calling the police!” the kid shouted.

We stopped at another station. More people got on, mostly elderly women. The kid leaped up to give his seat to one of the women, and stood hanging from a strap staring at the husband the rest of the way.

“Let me see your eyes,” the husband said.

The kid pulled out an ear bud. “What did you say, old man?”

“Let me see your eyes,” the husband said.

The kids yanked his dark glasses off and glared at the husband.

We made it thought the tunnel and into the first station in the city. Lots of people got off leaving several empty seats. The kid sat down behind the husband.

The husband turned around to face the kid. Here it comes, I thought. Do I call 911?

“I’m sorry for getting angry,” he said.

The kid shrugged. “It shows you’re taking care of your mom.”

“That’s my wife,” the husband said.

Oh no, here it comes, I thought.

“Okay, it shows you’re taking care of your wife.”

And with that the kid got up and got off at the next stop.

Calvin says, “Wow. Close call. I’d have circled the kid and bayed at full volume until the cops turned up.”