Metro Stories: A Woman Is Not Supposed to Smell Like That

Sunday afternoon of my sister's 23rd birthday.  Piled a bunch of stuff from my parents house, mostly clothes, and about five potatoes.  Carrying two bags. On to my 2nd home in Lakewood.

Blue Line. A little before the Florence stop in South Los Angeles.

Sitting in one of the last few cars of the train in the back seats normally reserved for seniors and the handicapped.  My aqua-blue Nishiki is posted up upside down here against the conductor's door with my two bags pinned up against the frame.

Usually I'm hesitant to put my bookbags down and away from me to restrain the bike; I don't want anyone stealing my stuff!  However, thanks to all my cargo, my bookbags are really heavy and unless in dire straits, I doubt anyone would want to bother hauling a bunch of clothes and potatoes.

There are two other bikers with me here, though they are left standing up.  Across from me and blocking the right door is some middle-aged white guy with long hair and his helmet still on.  Adjacent to me, a tall black guy with a mountain bike and a wiggly, barely-serviceable-looking seat.

I'd been in the train a good 20 minutes.  Sitting to my left was a little kid with turtles, her mom, a friend and another daughter/cousin.

The friend was sorta friendly with me;  she actually smiled back and attempted to engage me in conversation.  She asked me about my bike.  She asked me where I got my "We [Immigrant family running] LA" sticker on my helmet. I noticed that she had a bunch of tattoos in Chinese characters.  Out loud, she was talking about tea and how certain cultures based their diets around it.  I was wondering if she had an Asian fetish;  maybe this was the reason she was talking to me.

I spent most of the time listening to my Colloquial Cambodian by David Smyth.

Once we stopped at Florence, the tall black guy pushed his beat-up mountain bike backwards to allow people to either get off or board the train.  In entered, an over-sized woman in sweatpants, a familiar face. 

"Excuse me, I need to move my bike in," the tall black guy said to this woman.

"Ewww," the tall black man covered his nose.  "You smell, please go that way."

I sniffed the air, my nose in search of that pooh poohy smell that I'd come to associate with this woman.

This woman I'd known from my earlier travels on the Blue Line.  She would usually walk in and attempt to sell pens for $1.  Judging by the way she approached people with little tact and wide eyes when called upon, I figured that she was not mentally all together.

A woman from about 10 feet away from me behind the mother of the child sitting next to me said, "I will take you home with me and offer you a shower."

The poo poohy woman made her way up the aisle and away from me. 

The rest of the train passengers cringed and covered up their noses as she made her way down the train.  A general sigh and grunt hovered the atmosphere.  I laughed at their reactions. 

For some reason, I didn't smell her at all, as much I searched for it.  I knew she usually smelled.  All I smelled were tires.

The woman 10 feet away from me kept talking, "I know what it's like to be homeless, I was homeless for 5 years, but I always washed my ass.  A woman is not supposed to smell like that!"

About 2 minutes later, the poo poohy woman was peaking out coming our direction again.

The tall black guy said, "no, you stay over there!"

The woman 10 feet away from me offered again, "I will take you home with me, and you can shower.  I'll even feed you."

"I heard you the first time", said the poo poohey woman.  "I took a bath."

"What like last month", said the tall black guy.

"So you're not going to take my offer?" said the woman 10 feet away from me.

The poo pooey woman walked off.

"I was homeless for 5 years, I know what it's like, but I made sure to wash my ass.  You can go to the shelters here and they'll let you do that.  If you can't do that, something is not right with you," said the woman 10 feet away from me.

My laugh morphed into a brood.

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