Living Out Loud: : Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sobbing into a cell phone

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Fairly early on a Sunday morning I was heading back downtown from the Alpine Laundry in Price Hill. I have this Sunday morning routine down perfectly now. I can get to Price Hill, get two loads of laundry done, do a little grocery shopping at Kroger's and get back home in less than an hour and a half. I'm very pleased with myself.

It was a nice sunny morning, and I was enjoying the quiet bus ride. The bus was kind of crowded; basically, no one was talking. As a writer, I kind of notice things like that.

Around Eighth and Linn streets, a young woman got on the bus. She was all dressed up in a fancy evening gown. It was black, and so were her high heels and her purse.

She looked to be young.

She was thin, and her hair was brown. I don't know the color of her eyes, because she had her back tuned to me. The lady never took a seat. She stood up by the bus driver the whole time, sobbing into a cell phone.

The woman must have been Mexican or Latino — I don't know. She was speaking loudly into her cell phone — sobbing. Sometimes she got very angry as she was talking between sobs. The bus driver pretended not to notice, and so did the passengers, including me.

As passengers got on and off the bus, she made no attempt to move. People were forced to get around her somehow. I thought about going up to her and asking her to take a seat — but as I said, she was pretty angry. I didn't want to get hit.

When the bus reached Government Square, passengers continued to get past her. Then she got off the bus, still sobbing into that cell phone.

After she got off, one older lady still on the bus practically yelled, "Thank God." Then she said, "If you're gonna be sobbing into your phone, you should at least be speaking in English."

When she said this, I almost laughed out loud.

I was reaching my stop, so I pulled the chain to get off. As I did, I wished the bus driver an uneventful rest of the day. He smiled and laughed.

When I got home, I found my pen and notebook and wrote down the words "Sunday Morning Coming Down" — that old Johnny Cash song — as I found it fitting for that woman on the bus.

As I hung up my laundry, I started trying to figure out what the lady's problem was. Did she have a Saturday night out on the town that ended badly? Was she a prostitute who somehow hadn't gotten paid for her services the night before? Did someone just walk off and leave her somewhere?

Who was she talking to on the phone? Her husband? Boyfriend? Maybe her mother? Who the hell knows?

The lady was having a bad Sunday morning, to say the least. If you're reading this now, my friend, I hope the rest of your week got better.

Larry Gross' book, "Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories," is in bookstores now or can be ordered through

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