November 14, 2013


Due to circumstances beyond my control, in the form of my car's deciding that suicide is, indeed, painless, I have been "bussing it" lately to and from my office.
       I must say that it's been an interesting experience--especially before dawn. I'm a night person, so to me, six o'clock had always come around once a day, and it wasn't in the morning.
       What a cruel awakening I had in store.
       At any rate, with my eyes propped open with a pair of extremely feminine 2 x 4s, I totter to the bus terminal to begin a new day. If there is a puddle along the way, I will fall into it. If there is a crack in the sidewalk, I will trip on it. And if you say, "Good morning" to me, I will gun you down. The sheer absurdity of such a remark before the sun has even made an appearance merits a .357 in the vitals, as far as I am concerned. It's rising at ungodly hours such as these that makes me realize that I wasn't born with nearly enough middle fingers.
       Immediately upon arriving at the bus stop, I gaze upon my surroundings, wondering how I got there. In the time it takes to cut through my mental fogginess enough to remember, the bus arrives.
       I usually trip on the first step and gracefully fall flat on my face. Luckily, my bus driver, Walter, is used to this by now, and throws a mattress on the floor just before my stop. Evidently, people had been slipping in the blood, and the bus company was not interested in any more lawsuits than the bus drivers themselves could generate.
       The worst part of bus travel, for me, is sitting down; and it is here that I must make a confession.
       I am a weirdo magnet.
I don’t know why. I wish I did. But if there is anyone strange or disturbed, they will unerringly end up sitting next to me. And if they aren't actually sitting with me, they will cause me some kind of embarrassment before the ride is over.
       Take yesterday, for instance. There was a little old man at the back of the bus who decided, out of everyone aboard, that I was the spawn of Satan, and was rather loud in proclaiming this conclusion. I disliked being singled out in this manner, since all one had to do was scan the motley collection of passengers to know that I couldn't possibly have been the only spawn of Satan on that bus! How he could have missed the two guys in black with the swastikas carved into their foreheads sacrificing a white rooster three rows back is beyond me.
       But for some reason, I'm the one who gets noticed.
       Want a 20-minute ride to feel like a 20-year prison sentence? Try occupying the seat between a lady with Tourette's Syndrome, whose invective rivals anything even the most creative sailor could come up with, and a nearly deaf guy who, after each outburst, screeches, "WHAT?" at the top of his lungs.
       Or how about when it's "check day"? There are so many physical wrecks aboard that the bus feels it has no choice but to break down as an act of solidarity.
       Sometimes, Walter isn't driving my bus. Sometimes the bus driver is "Mr. Methane" who, I am convinced, lives solely on baked beans and broccoli. If you can survive a 20-minute trip in a closed bus with this guy, you get a Purple Heart from the bus company, as well as a complementary gas mask…blue for the men, pink for the ladies. I was on his bus one day when all the windows melted. Of course, that didn't happen until after every passenger's hair fell out. By the time we reached our destination, we all looked like we were on a day pass from the cancer ward.
       But of all the befuddled and bewildered passengers, the guy who thinks he's Mark Twain is my favorite. He boards the bus in the signature white linen suit, even in the dead of winter, and sports a white wig, bushy eyebrows, and a glued-on mustache. However, I suspect he's never opened a book by that esteemed author, who is undoubtedly spinning in his grave like a lathe at the idea that someone who conspires to look like him would ride in a public conveyance quoting loudly from a Mighty Mouse comic book.
       One thing that commuting by bus has going for it, though, is that no matter how bad my day turns out to be, it seems pretty tame compared to the bus ride in.


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