Darlings, I have a story to tell you for sure! But not tonight. I'm exhausted. Let's see, what can I say about August - it has been a Month From Hell. Right now, my mother is in Intensive Care at a local hospital. We think she'll be okay, but it was touch and go for 24 hours, touch and go. I haven't had much sleep. She's 85.
Earlier this evening when I was trying to get to the hospital as quickly as I could after leaving work nearly an hour early, that was NOT the time to be messing around with me. Someone tried. Stupid, stupid man. I'm fine. He's still alive, too.
August 30, 2012. Well, obviously it's not August 29th, LOL! Update - Mom, tough woman that she is (where do you think my DNA comes from, heh?) is out of the ICU and in a regular room. She is doing splendidly and is hoping the doc will tell her she can home Saturday. We'll see. I think she needs a little more physical therapy yet -- she had no session today, for instance. Another mix-up because last night the doc said she would have PT until he was satisfied that she is physically strong enough to go home. She is on a mostly liquid diet so that her giant ulcer has a chance to heal. She's not happy with that but on the other hand, she does love the pampering she receives from the hospital staff when she plays cute little old lady. That's my Ma, hamming it up. I'm a chip off the old block for sure, darlings :)
Sooooo, now that I can breathe again and will have a nice 3-day weekend to recuperate even further from the unrelenting stress of the past couple of months, I can tell you about my encounter with the man in the green shirt.
I received a call from my sister Yvonne Monday evening after a long hard day at work. Mom was in the hospital. She gave me a brief run-down. It was not a good situation at that time. Mom had been throwing up blood for an unknown period of time and had passed out at least twice. She called my sister rather than using her Medic Alert button (she said she left it in the bedroom but I think she planted it there on purpose just so she could call me sister, but that's another story). My sis is like 20 minutes away speeding on the x-way by car, so she calls an ambulance to go to Mom's house. Mom sends the ambulance away, and is therefore in very poor shape when my sister arrives, expecting to see the ambulance there! I'll spare you the rest of the details. After hours of ER care, Mom is finally installed in the ICU. Exhausted sister, who is starting a new job this coming Tuesday (day after Labor Day) and has to be way the hell up north tomorrow for certain pre-start rituals (physical, drug test), was beside herself!
So, I had to go into work Tuesday morning scared to death for my Mom, and gave the scoop to those who need to know what the LATEST health crisis in my life was. At least I received sympathy! I needed it!
I knew, particularly on the first day of her stay at the hospital, that plenty of family would be in and out all day, so I intended to leave work at 4 p.m. to beat the rush hour. Ha ha ha! I have never been so deluded in my life! I left at 4:07 and caught a bus to take me on my intended route (that I thought would take less time, ha ha ha!) at 4:20. Bus is absolutely jam-packed. I had managed to score a seat but by the time the bus hit 16th street and about 20 students piled on, I was being hit about the head constantly by back-sacks on oblivious students' backs! We FINALLY get to my corner. It's 27th and Wisconsin. Anyone familiar with Milwaukee should know the area. It's a major east west north south hub. Always busy. Perhaps in the 1920's the neighborhood was elite. It hasn't been elite for a long time, certainly not when I was in first grade and my family moved to a lower flat on 27th just west of Clybourn Avenue, a few blocks away. It was poor even then, but it was primarily poor white people. Today it's all black poor people, and the culture has changed.
Yeah yeah, I know what I sound like. Well, ride the bus along with me for the past 40 plus years as I've gone through the neighborhoods that have changed, NOT A SINGLE ONE FOR THE BETTER. There was a major IMPORTATION of trouble from Chicago when Illinois was early to change its welfare laws, and Wisconsin did not. That was back in the late 1980's, long before Tommy Thompson's "work-fare" became law here. Crack cocaine and gangs made the trip along with the young black women producing baby after baby after baby.
It's not poor people, per se, or black people, per se, who get my dander up. It is a certain class of trashy people, and trust me on this darlings, I've seen them in every color during my bus travels to and from work, shopping, riding the bus to get from where I am to where I need to be. Importing about 100,000 unwanted citizens from Chicago didn't help my struggling city any. Think I'm being a racist? Think I'm exaggereating? Take the city bus along with me for a week. You will receive a mighty education in a big hurry.
Now, being raised in what were even then considered "tough" neighborhoods (because we were poor, we were white but we were poor, and we have our own stereotypes to contend with), I learned a thing or two along the way about how to carry myself so as not to make myself an unnecessary target, and how to fight dirty if need be to defend myself. In fact, just last week I picked up a good self-defense tip from one of the hot chicks with whom I ride the bus. She's always being harrassed. Me, not usually, but I've long since passed my babehood days! She's a babe!
However, standing on 27th and Wisconsin at 5 p.m. waiting for a bus, trying to get to the hospital that's a short 10 minute bus ride away, if only it would come -- well, as a white face in a primarily darker-hued crowd, one sort of stands out.
His first mistake was getting tossed off the already over-crowded bus by the female bus driver for trying to pick a fight with one of the passengers. When I first arrived at the corner, I was the only one there, but that didn't last very long. By the time the overdue 27th Street bus arrived, there were probably 20 people waiting, and they didn't give a shit about who had been there first or ladies first, well, like I said, they're a certain class of people and they're not taught good manners. Mind you, I would have been more than willing to get my face up there first, using strategic elbows, glares, toe-mashes and even kicks to get to the front of the mob, but I could see from my vantage point what others waiting for that same bus either did not see or didn't care about -- the bus was already packed, standing room only. I did NOT want to rub elbows and trade sweat and possibly have someone try to pick my purse on the way to the hospital. I had ENOUGH to deal with. Let's just say I was not in a good mood, and when I saw that over-crowded bus that I knew I was not going to get on, I got really, REALLY pissed off.
A pissed off Jan is not someone you want to be around. Think - Krakatoa, east of Java...
So, bus driver kicks man in green shirt off the bus. He's dancing around the door as she shuts it in his face, making lousy boxing moves and cursing up a storm at a much younger man who is still on the bus. I can't even see the bus driver at this point, she is covered in people! That's how crowded that bus was. No way in Hell was I getting on that bus, even though she seemed to wait there an extra 45 seconds (even when the light for her to go was green), as if inviting the Stupid White Woman to Get On the Bus and Save Herself.
Man in the green shirt is drunk, or high, or both, and perhaps mentally ill. Who knows for sure, except the caseworker who doles out his SSI money every month? He staggers around for a few second after swinging a bit too hard at his now long-gone target (who is riding away on the bus that should have been, in a righteous world, MY bus), and his eyes alight upon -
That was his second mistake. His eyes take in fashionable cardigan, tailored slacks, gold earings, diamond ring, perfectly coifed hair (well, one must be presentable in public), sunglasses that do an amazingly wonderful job of camoflauging the fact that I am actually turned 61 (gasp!) but look, well.... Jack Benny's age...
And since I've lost some weight I am actually getting my figure back well, what can I tell you. I'm One Hot Momma.
Not that he saw Hot Momma. He saw clueless white woman from the suburbs! He could not have been more wrong.
The encounter was over in a flash. He approaches. Hey, he yells, you got any money? No, Dude, I reply, I'm broke until payday on Friday (honest-to-Goddess truth -- both that I called him Dude and that I'm broke until tomorrow). He laughs. He moves closer. Hey, what's your name?
I lower my sunglasses just a smidgeon on my nose and look at him over the top. Now I could have said something really cool like "Trouble" or "Your Worst Nightmare" (that would actually probably be true), but instead I say something like "There is no earthly reason why you need to know that" and I give it a slight Emma Peel accent. Oy, I can be such a ham!
He's taken aback for about 30 seconds - yeah, I could actually see the sound of my words travel into his ears at super slo-mo, reverberate around his ear drums, the signals make their way to his brain and then his brain struggling to decipher just what it was, exactly, I'd said. Then he said, hey, you gonna buy me some McDonalds.
That is when he made his final mistake. He reached out to grab my left arm.
Before it got there my right arm was already flinging him back. And then he got an angry look on his face like "NO WHITE WOMAN GONNA MESS WITH ME." I didn't say OH YEAH? But I may as well have. Both hands went up and I did this neat little Ninja Turtles move (I'm not kidding) and he goes flying back about 6 feet.
Mind you, this is all happening in micro-seconds. There were other people constantly joining the crowd waiting for the next 27th Street bus to arrive, including a few guys who looked as if they were planning on coming to the rescue of the white woman who was stupid enough to wear actual jewelry on 27th and Wisconsin.
They didn't have a chance. Mr. Green Shirt decided that retreat was the better part of valour and headed across the street (against traffic, horns blaring and he nearly got hit once), all the while shaking his fist at me and calling me who knows what in Ghettoise. I took two steps toward him just to rattle his brain, careful to have shoved my sunglasses full up on my forehead at that point and gave him the full benefit of my OWN Ghettoise Glare.
And then I did something very, very bad. Oh, Ms. Eloise, I exhibited the worst of bad manners. I did a CHOMP, CHOMP motion with my teeth. Just for the hell of it. Just because my nickname with the Ladies of the Bus is Jannibal. Now if you can't figure out where that nickname comes from, darlings, you don't deserve to be reading this blog!
And it is absolutely true that I was pissed off enough to have ripped off his face if I'd needed to. With aforesaid teeth.
Until the next 27th Street bus arrived, about 10 minutes later, he continued lurking across the street around the bus stop there, in front of the small corner store that used to be, years ago, an IGA (is there still anyone alive who remembers those?). He was occasionally shaking his fist at me and cursing, and the people around me were shaking their heads. But as the bus arrived and I looked over one last time, he was gone.