A man on my bus had a question for me, for anyone. I just happened to take out my earbuds and lock eyes with him, indicating clarification please. I’m never certain who to engage with, or how, in public spaces.

The question: If you had to hire someone to be a trillionaire would you lick their asshole? Though awkwardly phrased, a question worthy of questions. Am I hiring someone to become myself a trillionaire? Or am I hiring someone who will become a trillionaire upon my hiring them? That’s important to know. If the former, yes, I would lick their asshole, gleefully, with thoughts of a bright future flickering in my head. If the latter, I think my new employee ought to lick my asshole, for I have made this new hire the richest alive. In fact, I may pass on the lick, for I have no idea if their tongue may pass hepatitis to me, or any number of inconvenient viruses. Or, if a lick of my anus is a compulsory part of a hiring process where trillions are on the line, I think I’d like at least to negotiate what I might get out of it other than a tongue cleaning out or lapping at my rectum.

I stared out a window thinking of the various avenues this question opened up. My new friend stamped his feet and shook his head like a horse waking up or awaiting food. A child perpendicular to us had not answered him, either, and so was told fuck you four times at least. But he remained unfazed, this boy. He fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat in fact only after our man exited, at 7-Eleven. Maybe the boy had heard it all before, this hypothetical thinking, or even this particular question. With a parent or uncle it was discussed at dinner.

Jeff Bezos is the richest person alive—do you think he has a shot at trillionaire?

Well, him or Elon Musk, if Tesla gets its shit together.

You can’t believe what they write in the papers!

Whoever gets there first, Bezos, Musk, or J.K. Rowling, should we lick their asshole?

Maybe.

Do you think anyone already has?

Likely.

Do their asses work for us, or us for them?

Pass the brussels.*

These are questions the poor are subjected to, conversations that must take place chewing victuals or on a bus. It’s inevitable an asshole will present itself to you one day, and naive to think you won’t be asked to press your tongue or lips to it. But what you’re never told is who becomes the trillionaire after.

You can’t believe what they write in the papers!

At 7-Eleven, twenty-five-plus metro workers stand around in yellow-and-orange jackets. One with a camera struggles to lift it far enough from her chest for a selfie with a fellow worker. The lens is not pointed at them but to their right, where over their shoulders our man walks past, unmistakably still filled with questions, many unanswerable. The camera captures him, so it appears—his sweatpant-legs flapping like weathervanes in a cloud of curses—instead of the happy metro coworkers celebrating in the rain. This autobus Socrates will forever take up disc space on a City of Seattle hard drive.

The answer to his question came out, incidentally, before he exited: My God, twice, fuck you. Which still leaves one with questions.

*Yet, maybe they’re eating broccoli.

JK