Fifteen Minutes in San Francisco

Dan Benbow

When I reached the bus stop late night a young Spandex-clad woman rambled full tilt into her phone and a really good listener’s ear

A bus rolled up I went to the middle of the last row where I could see everything

The guy in front of me to the left played rap music for all to hear through his phone

The guy in front of me on my right bopped his head along just barely to the beat

And directly across from Head Bopper was Full Tilt, still yammering away about a friend whose parents were pushing her through school but she wasn’t studying enough because she didn’t really want to be in school and

A stop, a cat got on, sat next to Rap Boy, fist-bumped him

Stop after that a middle-aged woman got on with a bunch of bags but

She rode just a few blocks and at one stop as the driver was about to close the back door and move along she suddenly yelled, “Wait! I have lots of stuff to carry. Wait!”

And so the driver waited she got off Head Bopper grinned at the drama, started bobbing his head again to the rap

Bus pulled up to Van Ness and Market the guy directly in front of me fist-bumped Rap Boy got up to leave and loudly sucked mucus up into his throat without breaking stride

And did it one more time as he waited for the green light above the back door to come on

Head Bopper grinned again (the shit you see…)

I got off at the next stop, said to Head Bopper, “Endless entertainment on MUNI”

He smiled broadly, said yes

I came down into the long Civic Center BART tunnel two brothers were playing smooth jazz

keyboards and sax over a drum track

I gave ’em a dollar the saxman said thank you I said, “No. Thank you”

And when I looked ahead I saw a homeless cat near the add fare machines dancing in a winding cartwheeling drunk belly dancer style to the jazzmen

He saw me see him as I passed he smiled big and full of teeth except the one in the front which was missing

I smiled back and gave him a thumb’s up

Through the turnstile,

Downstairs on the platform I ran into a soft-spoken bearded dude from my old meet-up group who wrote verse in a little black leatherbound book, if memory serves,

I said hey, don’t I know you?

He said yes

Are you still going to the group?

And so on…

I broke away when the train came

The doors closed behind,

Sealing me in.