She’s the lady who lives at the bus stop. She has a stack of trash bags packed with pillows beside her, and a radio plays on the bench as she sits there rolling cigarettes or knitting gloves. She’s always there, no matter what, and a conversation is hers to claim from anyone who waits at her stop. Minutes roll by as she goes on tangents.

“My letter of recognition came back from the statehouse today.”
“Oh yeah, what for?”
“My undercover work for the police.”

And she wraps you up in a fanciful tale of national importance, full of conspiracy theories and such. A car stops in front of the bus stop to drop a friend off, and she breaks her train of thought to take a picture of the car’s license plate. She snitches on cars that stop in the bus stop lane long enough for her to waddle behind them, heckle them, and remind them it’s against the law.

She’ll make calls on a burner to unlisted numbers if the buses are not on time, and heckle the drivers when they arrive, or give them traffic updates. Everyone anxiously tries to board and get out of her conversational satellite of control.

“I received a commendation from the governor for helping in a drug bust.” In other words, she snitched on a bad dealer who sold her bad drugs. She was missing one of her incisors, but the rest of her teeth were surprisingly well kept.

“The White House knows about me.”
“Well, I keep their secret services in the loop out here.”

I look around and four people roll their eyes. The bus arrives, and Carolin retires to her knitting and cigarettes for another few minutes before the next group of commuters arrive to wait.