Lays Cement, Needs a Break
Ranter: Soft-spoken, 40-year-old white guy with shaved head, neck tats and sunglasses
Location: 33 bus, heading east on Venice
Time: 5:15 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 28
Topics Covered: A family crisis, the hatefulness of Angelenos, how to board a bus with no money, difficult times for cement layers, how mistakes lead to prison, the economy, the high price of infant footwear
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Did Rant Include Advice on Whom You Should or Should Not Fuck With? No.
[After sitting silently for several stops, Neck-Tatted White Guy addresses a new passenger, the only other white person on the bus.]
NTWG: Excuse me, sir. Can I ask you for a favor? I just found out that my father died, and I'm on my way to the hospital, and I need to call —
[New Passenger shrugs, taps earbuds.]
NTWG: Absolutely disgusting. [Long pause] No "I'm sorry for your loss." [Shuffles shopping bag.] It's just disgusting. [Puts head in hands.] They say what goes around comes around. [Lifts head from hands.] There's some hateful people, and it's getting worse. Especially in Los Angeles.
[Neck-Tatted White Guy continues on in this vein for several stops. Eventually, a bearish Latino man sits beside him.]
Bearish Latino: You all right, man?
NTWG: I need a favor. May I ask it? I'm not going to ask for money. I just found out that my father died, and I'm on my way to the hospital, and I need to call my family to let them know I'm coming. I have no phone and no money. I've been laid off for months because of the economy. The bus driver let me on when I told him —
Bearish Latino: I have 50 cents. For pay phone.
NTWG: I don't need money. I just need to borrow —
Bearish Latino: I don't have a phone.
[Unasked, a Latino teenager hands over a phone. Neck-Tatted White Guy thanks him, then pokes at the number pad and holds the phone to his ear without speaking for a minute or so. Then he hands the phone back with many thanks.]
NTWG: I lay cement, and I can't get a break. I thought it was just hard times, but I think it's people, too. What people are becoming. Just now I kept asking people for help, and everyone looks at me like I made this up. What kind of person would do something like that? I'm with Local 600 in Burbank, but I've been to prison. I made some mistakes. And then there's the economy, so right now I'm working at Ralphs. It's a job. You do what you have to do, right?
[Bearish Latino agrees. Several minutes later, as he prepares to exit the bus, Bearish Latino digs a business card from his wallet.]
Bearish Latino: Call this man. He needs some cement people.
NTWG: Thank you. God bless you.
[Neck-Tatted White Guy lets five minutes pass in silence. By the time he speaks again, to a trio of African-American teenagers, few riders have heard any of the preceding. He pulls a pair of baby shoes from a shopping bag.]
NTWG: Can you believe that these cost more than my shoes? What's wrong with this country?
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