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THE Lowly Peon

Waiting for the Bus 
28 January 2011, 11:50pm

A quick story for the archives.

I wasn't exactly on my game this morning, after a midnight interview last night and the bad luck of getting a horrible public bike to ride. I arrived at the bus stop exhausted and my torso was sweating under all my layers.

There's a guy who maintains the public bike stand where I wait for the company bus, and four days a week he's there with little to do, so we all shoot the poop* while waiting for the bus.

I suppose he noticed that I was a bit out of breath, and I rejoiced when I ditched the bike at the stand, saying that bike is in bad shape, and is unusually hard to ride. He exclaimed that I was too skinny, and need to eat more. All Americans are fat, he said, so why aren't you? One of my buddies mentioned that I don't eat meat, and our friendly conversation suddenly became something fierce.

You need to eat meat, he told me in Chinese way that makes you wonder if he really is infuriated, as he sounds, or if he's just trying to make his point. Your yin/yang is out of balance. He kept grabbing the skin on his wrist and saying something about how when I'm young my skin has no problem, but when I get older, then trailed off.

I've long since gotten bored when explaining why I don't eat meat, so lately I've been having a little fun with it. In fact, just last night, I told my friend's girlfriend that I was a monk, have been for ten year; the hair on my head is a wig I wear when I go out. She didn't get it. And I guess the reaction was equally painful when I told the guys at the bus stop that I don't eat meat because it's wasteful — the amount of food required to feed one cow could feed lots more people, if only we skip the cow part.

Whether it was instantly or a few minutes later, I don't know, but before I knew it, this guy was yelling at me for telling him not to eat meat. I told him I had no problem with anyone eating meat, it's my decision (and I do believe eating meat is one thing I don't judge people on). He didn't like it.

And then, so as to justify how my yin/yang was out of balance and my skin would be bad when I was older, he told me about how all Americans believe in God, and believe that in 2012 the world will burn because of God. I smiled because I thought he was joking. Then he explained how it's true because he saw it on the news.

Then, thanks to whatever god there is, the bus came and the conversation ended.

(I realize now that the news report he was referring to was about the volcano in Yellowstone, which British scientists are convinced will erupt next year and ruin the world, though American scientists are saying they missed some facts. But still. Half of the reason he said 2012 was probably because of the success of the movie.)

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