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The 15

 I ride the 15 to work each day in the dark. The 15 is a workingman's bus, at least this time of day as it moves down Third Street painfully howling at the predawn Monday.
 The people who ride the 15 this time of day are all laborers and all men — men heading to jobs mostly on the waterfront. Later the 15 will take hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese women to sweat shop jobs in the garment district along Third Street. But in the dark it’s all men, laborers, workers.
 Some gulp coffee from huge Styrofoam cups and stare straight ahead because there’s not much to look at in the dark against the squinting glare of the interior lights, and what there is to see we’ve all seen so many times it’s familiarity becomes a cruel reminder which we choose to avoid — all the rest sleep.
 There’s no conversation. The bus is heavy with somnolent silence, the only steady noise the muffled rise and fall of the Detroit Diesel engine that pushes this rolling asylum down Third Street, dropping us variously on empty corners.
 Sometimes the quiet is punctuated by a cough, or the clearing of a throat, and often by the languid rhythm of someone snoring, but mostly I hear the droning silence.
 The pungent air in this bus clings to your thoughts like a dream. It smells of mildewed, sweat stained clothes, stale cigarette smoke that permanently fuses with hair and bodies, and the unmistakable sweet sick aroma of last night’s alcohol being expelled on the breath of all these men who, each morning, are my peers.
 We cross the Islais Bridge and in the channel berthed at Pier 80 is a Panamax container ship lying absolutely still in windless water, silhouetted in lights of the 40 ton cranes that will sleep for a hundred or so more quiet moments.
 The Santiago is the name I can barely make out painted on the stern, fresh off of voyage 35S/L-115. Later I’ll pull container #KNLU2711776, a 40 foot, high cube reefer holding 38,374 pounds of frozen solid New Zealand pork butts.
 I’ll come back here and wait in line for at least an hour with at least fifty other trucks until the gates open and the cranes begin their long day’s work. By that time it’ll be getting light, the Roach Coach will have my breakfast ready and there’ll be plenty of time to wake up, eat, get my box, and head for L.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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