Big John’s Jacket
Waiting around a bus station can be an incredibly boring time, unless you can keep your eyes open. After a jaunt around the surrounding area, including a brief gander at the Detroit Free Press office and a really kitschy used book shop that embodied everything I felt about the city, I returned to the Greyhound terminal to see a large group of Amish folk milling about waiting for a coach to take them to Grand Rapids.
There were about 20 of them in total, including a few babies and young girls in matching bonnets. They all seemed nice enough, but definitely stood out from the drunk and city worn crowd that filled the station. Cleaner and more cohesive than the majority of the other travelers, maybe there was some truth to their cleaner and more humble way of life.
When I went outside the station to catch a breath of fresh air, I met a large black man named Big John who told me he’d stashed a brand new leather jacket in the washroom filled with money; close to a thousand dollars he claimed. When a passing junkie who’d asked me for Adderall earlier heard this he immediately sped off to the restroom and returned minutes later sporting the coat.
It looked surprisingly good on him and matched his Detroit Tigers hat well. If I hadn’t known better I would have assumed he was a rather dapper individual with a penchant for color coordination.
To his chagrin, the money had already been pilfered, but Big John wouldn’t let him go without. Handing him a crumpled $20 bill from his pocket, the Adderall junkie sped off to the nearby casino to see if his lucky streak could continue.
I asked Big John why he didn’t need the money, as he didn’t look like he was flush with the stuff, to which he responded, “Who am I, I ain’t nobody. But none of these fools ain’t nobody neither. I just wanted to see which one o’ them’d take it.”
Apparently he’d been trying to get rid of the jacket as he didn’t think he’d need it once he got to Tampa and was set with a job with his Puerto Rican friends. He wanted to give the jacket away, but had no luck just handing it out to the plethora of homeless folk around the station. The lie about the cash was just to get it out of his hands without throwing it out, and the $20 bill was to compensate for the disappointment of not hitting a windfall. I guess Big John believed in some sort of karma, and wanted to do good by giving the jacket away, even if it took a very strange ruse to get rid of it.
I ruminated on this for a while until I was interrupted by the sounds of security escorting a fingerless hobo in an army coat out of the bathroom for smoking meth. As everyone poured out of the restroom, fanning in front of their faces to clear the fumes, security let him walk out the door and carry on his way. I guess Detroit’s the kind of city where it’s just more trouble than it’s worth processing the addicts and it’s a better use of everyone’s time to just let them carry on.
I’ve got another 3 hours in Detroit before my ride to Los Angeles arrives. Let’s just hope we’ve hit the cap for tonight’s craziness.