Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What you on

The distinctive smell of the most popular recreational drug (after alcohol) is a common scent on the bus, some routes more so than others. Some folks don't even try to hide it, the nostril-flaring aroma boards the bus before they do, a reeky red flag to give away what they were doing while waiting. There's no shame in their game, and it's not a problem on the bus because it didn't happen on the bus. And really, there's rarely a behavioral problem since most of the time everyone stays mellow and loose, a welcome alternative to the derangement that flakka unleashed last year.

The scent is hard to hide, and when it occasionally wafts up to the driver's area, I'm compelled to see what's going on behind me. If there's no smoke, there's no fire and we're all good. Usually I get a whiff of something due to my habit of always having my window open, regardless of temperature. So we could be passing a particular hang out spot, or a partaker could be in the car that just pulled up next to us at a red light. Once we get moving again, the odor is gone.

Other times the smell is not from smoke, but simple exposure to whatever especially strong strain is being rolled that day. A cursory walk-through of the bus at the end of the day reveals the evidence: the unused tobacco contents of a cigarillo in a small pile beneath a seat.

If anything seriously illegal is going on, other passengers are generally good about pointing it out. Then there's the time an older man came up to me and confessed he found a joint on the floor and went to pick it up; it turned out to be a french fry.

The flip side of all this piques my curiosity the most. As bus operators controlling heavy equipment and transporting passengers, we're obviously in a safety-sensitive position. Naturally, the County routinely conducts random drug and alcohol testing on its employees. A minuscule percentage of operators may fail the test, but the vast majority value our jobs too much to abuse any substances, so we're among the cleanest people on the bus. Still, some passengers assume we're doing something we shouldn't. This tends to happen at the end of a long shift, when the stress of the day helps us achieve a strung out, bedraggled, bloodshot appearance.

One day on the 40, a youth looked at me knowingly and promised he wouldn't tell, holding his finger to his lips. Most recently on the 50, another young man, a self-confessed fan of the herb nearing the end of a work-release program, studied my visage for a second before we pulled out for my last trip. With a winning grin he delivered the line of the day: "Can I have some of what you on?"

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