Standing room only, stifling air.
Word of the day: bêbado. Three drunk men, 4 p.m. They crowd in the aisle, make a ruckus. One carries a speaker attached to a cell phone, and it plays grating music, unidentifiable songs. One of the men is rather elderly, and he’s screams his words—guttural, lifetime smoker sounds—and his eyes are bloodshot even from my seat five rows back. I don’t know what they’re yelling about, or to whom, and they keep leaning out the bus windows, motioning to people on the street, cat-calling, shoving each other. I try to keep studying, but it’s distracting, and a bit tense. I look to the women to my right and she smiles and rolls her eyes and gives me a look that clearly says: men. That look is all it takes. I chuckle and go back to studying verb conjugations.
Etiquette of the ônibus: Sitting persons offer their laps as resting spots for the heavy bags and books of standing persons. Women hand heavy totes to strangers, and they carefully guard them on their laps; men gesture to students to hand over heavy piles of books; a standing women is relieved of a basket of groceries by a sitting woman, and then takes it back when she, too, finds a seat. It’s incredibly endearing.
By the time we get close to the university, the crowd peters out. Empty seats, and fresh air.