Riding the bus with Gary Winslow: Etiquette

Sep 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm

White people, I hope you got a good sense of humor, cause I'm 'bout to mess with you ... of course, not in any hateful sort of way, 'cause I got love for everybody. If you've read any of my stories, you know that I have the ability to find humor in any kind of anybody (including myself), and that includes you ... nobody's safe. The point of this story, however (and it only applies to some of you that may fall into the category of this gentleman I'm 'bout to talk about), is to offer sound advice of appropriate behavior when you're dealing with the following situation or something similar. Tensions are high these days (I said "these days" like it's somethin' new) when it comes to race, but today ... let's laugh a little.

It was a rough day at work and I worked so far past quittin' time, I almost missed the bus. When I leave work, I gotta go through our parking lot, and turn south on Telegraph till I get to one of the most dangerous intersections in Michigan: Telegraph and 12 Mile Road. When the coast was clear, I pedaled quickly through the crosswalk, and as soon as I got to the south side of 12 Mile, I could see my bus in the distance. I put on the afterburners to beat the bus to the stop, but, as I approached, I noticed something quite peculiar: a Porsche Carrera parked just feet away from the bus stop. As I got closer I could see that it was parked slightly askew in the road and in front of the path of the bus, and I remember saying to myself, "WTF? What's this arrogant asshole doin'? Maaan, move yo' shit!"

Seeing that there was no longer a need to rush, I stopped pedaling and just coasted the rest of the way toward the bus and this oddly placed high-end car. Finally I got close enough to see what the situation was: The right rear tire was flat as a flounder. The scene was self-explanatory, but seeing as there is a driveway just a few feet to his right, I wondered why the driver of the car just sat there, smack dab in the way when he could easily have driven that little bit so as not to obstruct traffic. I passed him on my way to the bus bike rack and took note of the scowl on his face as he looked down at what I presume was his phone. The odd way in which he was parked on the side of the road and the fact that he acted as if there wasn't a huge bus behind him led me to believe that he was at that point we've all experienced called "FUCKIT!" To be fair, maybe he just didn't want to take the risk of ruining his rim, but that's the vibe I got as I entered the bus.

When I boarded there was an air of confusion and the bus driver and I discussed it briefly, "Hey now, wassup? What's this guy doin'?" said my friendly neighborhood bus driver, who I like to refer to in these writings as "Captain Cool." Why? Because he's exactly that: cool. If ... no, when I finally get my book published, I'll go into more detail about him ... good cat.

Among the other appalled voices that began to chime in, I explained, "He got a flat ... yeah, his back tire flat."
Now at the same time this short conversation was transpiring I heard, "There's Mr.Gary!" I wanna say that it was followed up by a, "How the hell are ya!" but I can't swear to it due to the simultaneous communication I was in the middle of with the bus driver and a couple of inquiring passengers. The voice came from one of my good bus buddies ... we'll call him "John" for the sake of this episode. He's big and tall to say the least and about as friendly as a guy can be. His voice is loud and nasal, he's quite articulate, and, yes ... he's white. Now there is nothing wrong with being overtly friendly, in fact, that's the reason he is so endearing, but there are times when you need to tone it down a bit. As I've seen on several occasions, his big personality doesn't seem to be overly concerned with timing. He is who he is regardless and we accept him as such. I'll take an honest person over a fake one regardless to his color any day. However, if I were to advise him at all on the funny tip, I'd say to chill on the extra friendly shit till black folks figure out what's goin' on in the midst of a crisis!

So after the mystery of the strangely parked car was solved, I gave my salutations to him, while noticing that the bus was not as full as it usually is. I was like, "Dang this bus damn near empty," as I saw my homeboy "D" sitting towards the back. "I can holla like I'm on the block up in this piece. Yo, D, whatupdoe!" The laughs erupted throughout the bus and with them came a nice little community feeling where the whole bus was in accord, except ...

When I finished paying my fare and began walking towards the vacant seat I saw next to D, I noticed my buddy John on the phone ... that quick. As I passed him I heard him say, "Yes I'd like to report a broken down car ..." WTF? This fool had the nerve to call the cops? Now I know that he thought he was being a good samaritan, and God bless him for that, but he was naively treading dangerous waters with this one. If you're confused here's what I mean ...

Unless the black person in question is in serious dire straits and does not have a phone, or is in a life-threatening situation that would call for an ambulance, YOU DO NOT CALL THE COPS! Any number of complications can arise from the arrival of a cop to such a scene as this. You've got a pissed-off brutha and if you're not lucky enough to get one of the many helpful police officers (yes, I know they exist), you've got a recipe for disaster, and my man was unwittingly setting it up! Right now, black folks reading this are saying, "Mmhmm," or, "I know that's right," and some of you white folks are saying, "You're not talkin' about me!" or, "That's just terrible," but whatever your point of view is on this, relax ... I told you that we're gonna laugh about this shit today, so laugh!

So I got to my seat and leaned over to D and said, "Look, look, he up there callin' da cops," I said in half chuckle mode as D answered back...

"Whaaat. Oh, hell naw."

"Yep, he's bein' a good samaritan," I said in the "nasal white guy" voice and we busted out laughing. I continued, "Now you know ain't no brutha gon' call no cops for some shit like that...might get him caught up..."

"Naw ain't no brutha gon' do that, heh heh heh."

"Shiiit, might be ridin' dirty, ha haaa, might not have dat insurance ... license might be fucked up ... anything ha ha ..."

"Right, never know."

"But he steady callin', bein' a good samaritan an' shit ... not sayin' that's what it is ... I mean he in a Porsche so probably not, but you still don't call attention to no shit like that."

"Right," and we chopped it up some more while we laughed our asses off for a minute. Whew, that was a good one.

So to all my white brothers and sisters that ride the bus with me in this fine metro Detroit area, if you ever have the occasion to be slowed by an oddly parked car in front of the bus you're on, don't panic and call the cops. If the cops need to be called, let the driver decide that and just let it lie, cause if a brutha rollin' in a Porsche, chances are he's got roadside insurance and has probably made that call ... unless he's hurt or unconscious. If the latter is the case, feel free to summon your friendly neighborhood officer, whom you have no reason to fear. Now, if what I said pisses you off, I have two things to say; one, you missed the humor and sorry for ya, and, two, if you are disgruntled with my friendly racial humor, feel free to comment and cuss me out if you want to ... I can take it. Peace and love, good people, till next time...