Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Different World

Riding the bus during rush hour is generally a run-of-the-mill occasion, but catching the bus during off-peak hours is a special kind of joy. As I've mentioned before, rush hour commuters are the "average Joe" of bus riders, and are, by and large, normal. But take a ride during some other part of the day, and you never know what you might see. I left work early today because I was sick, which never makes for a fun bus ride, but today was especially delightful.

When I boarded the bus, it was pretty empty, so I took a seat near the front and started reading my magazine. It wasn't long before we picked up Character #1. She was an older lady wearing what looked like either a threadbare muumuu or a hospital gown (she didn't have the tell-tale plastic bracelet, though, so I'm going to go with muumuu). She also had a rag on her head (and I don't mean this in any sort of derrogatory way, it literally was a frayed rag, tied loosely around her head). Of course, she sat directly across from me. Apparently, C#1 had some sort of skin fungus (scientific name: cooties), because she proceeded to scratch her knee continuously for the duration of the trip. She also felt the need to vocalize said scratching with a repetitive, "Mmm, yeah, there it is." It was enough to make me want to run for the hydrocortisone, RID, and a bleach shower.

Shortly after C#1 boarded, we stopped to pick up another load. It was at this point that Character #2 came aboard. She was also an older lady, who appeared to be normally dressed. Not surprisingly, she sat next to C#1 (as is usually the case in these situations, the strangest always seem to flock together). Besides being afraid she might catch the cooties, this lady fascinated me as she began to dig into her handbag, pulling out a pair of scissors, and not the little grooming kind, but full scale scissors. She then pulled out several pieces of paper and began to cut them with the scissors. The clippings fell into her purse, all while C#1 looked on intently.

Enter Character #3. This man was middle aged, and suffered from a syndrome that had previously been reserved for the under-25 set: his extremely baggy pants, which, incidentally, were belted, riding low. That is to say that they were falling down. This revealed a pair of underpants and a little bit of buttcrack. Buttcrack that C#3 proceeded to stick dangerously close to my face. I'm not sure why he opted to stand, because there were plenty of available seats, but he started a conversation with the driver, so I guess that's why. His posterior was so close to me that I scooted over to the next seat (which thankfully was empty), so as not to get wind of anything unwanted. C#3 was talking to the driver (this mostly consisted of talking at the driver, who was otherwise occupied) about the playoffs, which I initially thought was the Caps Game 7 . . . but turned out to be some other playoffs that had nothing to do with hockey (or anything else coherent, so far as I could tell).

The driver himself was also particularly charming in his own way. He alternately slammed his foot on either the gas or the brake, depending on whether we were trying to go or stop. On at least one occasion, his lead foot nearly resulted in my face slamming into C#3's butt. In between the jerking forward motion and the bonecrushing brake jobs, he entertained himself by honking the horn in a particularly repetitive, yet unrythmic fashion. I'm not sure what or who he was honking at, but after nearly every stop, almost as soon as he slammed on the gas, the horn tooting began. And the best part about it all was that the cast of characters that were along for the ride seemed to think nothing of the incessant honking. Or perhaps they were too concerned with their own itch, scissors, or playoffs to pay much attention to the other entertainment on board. Or maybe I dreamed it all in my Mucinex-induced haze.

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