Minor bus incident:
I was on the 38 Geary today, and a pretty rough-looking man was struggling to get on the back of the bus by sticking his arm inside the door, pushing the handle to get it open, and dragging large garbage bags of recycling up the steps. I was standing near this back door as he was getting on with a Vienna sausage pursed between his lips and a couple more clenched tightly in his gloved hands as he tried to hoist his bags up the stairs. As he braced himself against the door to keep it open, he looked up at me and asked (with his lips still pressing down on the sausage in his mouth), “Will you hold my sausages?”
I am inclined to be helpful and, reflexively, started to reach my hand out to take them, caught another glimpse at the shiny pink saliva-covered one between his lips, and thought better of it.
“I’m sorry,” I said apologetically, as I withdrew my hand.
“Bitch,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth as he continued the drawn out process of getting on the bus.
I felt like I should offer him a reason. I’m a vegetarian? I just sneezed into my hand? I just petted a dog? I have a contagious skin disease? And then I felt a little indignant that I should feel compelled to give this man a reason. Besides the weird situation and being called a bitch, Vienna sausages are gross. Period. I don’t want to hold one ever.