I just got on the inter-city bus for Cosmopolis, and in the nick of time, too. Work was crazy today. It was so crazy that I had to shuffle off the last of my work onto a co-worker who ended up doing my overtime. I barely made the city bus back home from work and had all of fifteen minutes to spare in which to feed and water the birds, pack, breathe, and then race to the bus depot on foot.
It is extrememly important to board the bus early to avoid having to sit next to the other passengers, so I had this plan to hit the ticket counter first so I could board as soon as possible, and then I was to grab a bag of chips and some water at the snack counter, drop my bag off for loading, and then jump on the bus. It all seemed so simple, but I had forgotten to factor in slow older people. Just before I got up to the ticket counter, a slow old person appeared in front of me. She actually had to be coached through using her debit card. The same thing happened at the snack counter, except there were three of slow older people, each of whom proceeded to ask for things that the place didn’t even stock. Seriously, they stood there asking for stuff until they hit on something that was there. When I finally got my food and headed for the doors to the bus lanes, I got stuck behind four more slow older people who thought that the spot just inside the doors I needed to get through was the place to stop and discuss when they would meet up for coffee later and who would pick up whom. At that point the jingling change in pockets and floral blouses and glasses chains were too much for me, and I had to a-hem! loudly a couple of times to get through. Fucking ridiculous, especially now that I’m on the bus and there are no old people on it. What the hell were they all doing at the bus depot?! There should be old slower people lanes like the slow lane on freeways.
And now, thankfully, I am packed, I have food, and I am on an idling bus waiting for my trip to Cosmopolis to start. This part of my trip is always busy, because I have to look intense and inaccesible. I have to jealously guard the seat next to me, because if I don’t, I might end up having someone sit next to me, and looking intense and inaccessible is the best way to ward off such a fate. It’s not that I hate people that much, but I usually end up sitting next to someone who is large enough to be squishing me out of my seat or has unusually large pointy elbows or that chatter at me for the whole three hours. I haven’t figured out how it is that I always attract these people, but I do, so my game plan is to open up my journal, stick my tongue out of the corner of my mouth, and start writing. One thing people still respect in public is leaving someone alone who is obviously focussing intently on any particular task. Starcat tells me that people avoid others who have their tongues hanging out, too, so I use that action as added insurance. And I’m in luck! The bus has just started pulling away from the depot, and not a single soul is sitting next to me or even in the seats in front of or behind me.
Did I ever tell you about the foot fetishist that came around one of my old workplaces? I used to manage a gift shop in a hotel and had a small staff of four young women. One of them had mentioned that a shoe salesman had come and offered to show her a couple of exercises that would ease the strain on her feet. The job involved a lot of standing around, and so it was particularly hard on the feet. She said the exercises worked well but that something seemed kind of off about this guy. The strange customers almost always make repeat appearances, so I waited for him to show up during one of my shifts.
I was in luck one night when I was covering a shift for a sick employee. A smallish, scruffy, middle-aged man came in and immediately started chatting me up without bothering to take a look around the shop. He obviously had no interest in buying anything and had come in for some other purpose. Within a couple of minutes, he was asking me to remove my shoes, assuring me that my feet must be sore and that he had some exercises to show me that would help my condition. My feet weren’t sore at all, because my shift had just started, so I declined his offer, saying that I was fine. He insisted that my feet must be in pain, and out of curiosity, I followed his instructions and took off one of my shoes.
He asked me to spread my toes and bring them back together. I did. No, he said, I had to do it over and over. I did. No, he said, I had to do it much more slowly as well. I told him that I would do it later, because my feet weren’t even sore, and I slid my foot back into my shoe. He tried pressuring me into doing it again for him, but the look on his face had been more than I could take. With his head tilted down to look at my feet, his eyes had been wide and unblinking, his lips slightly parted, and his breathing shallow; his whole attention had been focussed unerringly on my foot as I had stretched my toes, spreading them and bringing them together, spreading them and bringing them together.
I turned and walked back behind the counter and tried to look busy, but he was excited now. He wanted more, and so he kept urging me to walk back to the end of the counter and do it again. Your feet must be in pain, he kept saying, don’t be shy. Eventually, I took out a ledger and started doing some accounting. After pretending that he didn’t exist for a few minutes, he gave up and left. Shoe saleman, my ass.
A little wierdness is fine, but he had crossed the line between being eccentric and uncomfortably gross. I have nothing against people with foot fetishes. I have nothing against fetishes in general, but I think that people should pursue their forms of sexual excitement honestly. What he had done was the equivalent of cornering me under a false pretense and then fondling my breasts or my ass. Granted, this form of sexual harrassment was much less upsetting than other forms might be, but it was harrassment all the same. When he came back a third time to harrass yet another worker, I had him banned from the hotel altogether. I was told that he did not ask why he was being asked to leave and left without argument. He knew he had been sussed out. and never returned. My feet have never been the same.
And now I’m off to dye my hair and experience some of the sunshine and take photographs. I’ve been up in Cosmopolis since Thursday night, and I have spent most of my time so far coccooning in my parents’ basement eating cereal, so I’m pulling myself up by my own bootstraps and getting out of here.