I’ve only seen this guy a few times before on the bus, but I’ve felt sorry for whoever was next to him every time. He’s The Talker, the stranger who doesn’t shut up and doesn’t realize that everyone’s secretly plotting his demise. The first time I saw him chatting some lady’s ear off in the front seat while she sat flipping through a magazine, I thought, “What a jerk! How could she just ignore him like that?!”
But then he came and sat by me on Tuesday. I didn’t recognize him at first and didn’t think anything about it when it took him an abnormally long time to board the bus because he was talking to the driver. People ask the driver questions all the time. But then I watched as he talked to apparently no one all the way back the aisle to the seat right next to me. I quickly considered my options and decided that moving away was ruder than simply pretending I didn’t hear him, so I stared straight ahead until he was silent.
A minute later, he looked over at me and said perfectly-sanely, “Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but do you know how many stops it is to 6th Avenue?” Thinking I had misjudged him and that it was safe, I answered, “About five.” And then the floodgates opened.