Picture this: I’m on the city bus. Me and two other people are sharing the five person bench seat at the very back. I’m in the middle and there are comfortable spaces between the three of us.
The bus stops and I see about fifteen people get on. Instinctively I get up and move to the sideways-facing seat that is directly in front of where I had been sitting. A large man in hiking gear with a backpack instantly appears where I had been, placing his backpack between himself and the young girl by the window to his right.
People are still getting on the bus.
An obese man storms to the very back, and in a very aggressive tone, says to backpack guy “Could you move please?”
Backpack guy is also ridiculously aggressive. It’s an instant showdown of what I can assume are men with very tiny penises. “I don’t think so.”
“There are five seats there, buddy.”
“Yeah so pick one, asshole.”
“I would like my fucking girlfriend to sit with me, so move over.”
I had been staring at a library book this entire time, eavesdropping, but I had to get a look at these people. I glance up and yes, he is holding hands with an equally obese woman in pink sweat pants. The backpack guy makes a big deal of moving his bag to the floor in front of him and surprisingly slides over without another complaint.
The couple sits down, literally taking up three seats worth of room with their thighs, and squishing everybody in the row. I thank my bus guardian angel for warning me about them. I sure have cultivated some sharp bus instincts over the years.
But it’s not over yet…they start talking. My iPod was in the bottom of my bag somewhere and there was no way for me to fish it out without dropping tampons or flinging change around or generally making a ruckus, so I just kept on pretending to read my book.
“So they just want to talk to us each seperately, but as long as we keep our story straight there’s nothing they can do. Soon enough I’ll be going home.”
“What did she say on the phone?”
“She said the kids are fine and the lawyers called again.”
“I talked to the lawyer and he said I should be going home as soon as we talk to the social workers. Just make sure you tell them the right story. It’s fucking crowded in here.”
“I’m really hot.”
“There’s so many fucking people on this bus. Hey buddy. HEY BUDDY! HEY. Fuck. HEY BUDDY COULD YOU OPEN THAT WINDOW? IT’S FUCKING HOT IN HERE.”
It was NOT hot in there, and it was like 2 degrees celcius outside. (Let me convert that into Fahrenheit for all my American buddies…um, 35 degrees!) I shivered and stared at my book nearly all the way home, hearing more and more about what I assume was some sort of child abuse charge. They finally got up to get out of the bus and the fat man stepped on backpack guy’s foot.
“You fucking stepped on my foot,” he said.
“Shut the fuck up,” he replied. And then, turning to his girlfriend, “This is why I don’t like taking the bus, the people are so rude.”
Picture this: I’m tired and very grouchy and just had a frustrating day at work. I’m depressed because it’s the grey season on the wet coast and while walking to the bus stop to go home I remembered that I had dropped some film off at the photo place like three weeks ago. It definitely should be ready by now! (They have to send it super far away to get it processed for some reason.)
I figured I could pick up my photos and then spend a few minutes looking at them before catching the bus. I was nearly half an hour early anyway. I changed trajectory and headed into the mall. The photo place was pretty empty, there was one employee and one old man looking at cameras.
The old man needed some help, and I allowed him to cut in front of me to talk to the employee who we will dub ‘Johnny Eager’ from now on.
Johnny came out from behind the cash register and explained the auto focus function on a standard pocket sized digital camera to the man. He took a couple example pictures of faces, and explained the macro settings. I stood there for maybe five minutes, my feet already getting sore (they hurt the worst when I’m standing still). I was patient. My bus wasn’t coming for at least twenty five minutes anyway. I could wait.
They came up to the till. Johnny scanned the box that the camera came in. The old man asked about the memory card, and said he had one at home but wasn’t sure it would fit into this new camera. Johnny assured him it would, but the old man thought maybe he should just go look at the selection of cards anyway. Johnny left the counter and went with him, not even acknowledging that I was there.
Two girls walked into the store and stood behind me, and we officially became a line-up. One had an accent and they were talking about how silly it is that the passport office didn’t have its own photo-booth. They have a point.
The old man decided he was fine with the four gig memory card because “twelve hundred pictures is plenty”, and they made their way back to the cash register. Johnny still did not acknowledge our presence.
The old man asked where the memory card went in the camera. Johnny put it in for him. The old man asked how to look at the pictures he had already taken. Johnny showed him. Another man lined up behind us. Johnny did not acknowledge us. My bus was coming in fifteen minutes.
I cleared my throat. The man at the back of the line asked if this was a line-up. We all said yes.
Johnny handed the old man a flyer advertising free digital camera lessons, and instructed the old man to try the camera for a few days and write down any questions he had, and come in for his free lesson. The old man said he would. He still hadn’t paid but at least they were nearly finished.
Johnny asked the man his full name and address for the warranty. His postal code. His phone number. He didn’t even look up at the growing line-up. He asked the man to sign something. He explained every single thing the warranty would and would not cover.
The old man paid with a bank card and finally made moves to go, saying ‘thank you very much’. Johnny asked him if he wanted him to set the date and time on his camera. The old man said yes. The rest of us groaned.
Once the time and date was set, the old man took the camera back. I looked at the time. My bus was coming in ten minutes. Johnny said “Do you want me to put the strap on that camera for you?” The old man said yes and handed it to him. My feet really hurt. He put the camera strap on, struggling to get it through the tiny plastic ‘D’. My bus was coming in eight minutes.
“Okay sir, we are all set. Here’s your camera, and…oh, wait. Let me explain how you zoom in on something.” He took the camera back.
“FORGET THIS” I shouted and stormed out.
The day isn’t over yet. Because then I get on the bus. It’s a double decker. I am up to my ears in frustration at this point because the one thing that was going to cheer me up has made me angry.
I take a seat upstairs, where there’s only me and one other guy who is quietly reading a book. I decide to distract myself from my poison thoughts by making a playlist of happy songs like Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
At the next stop about fifty freaking people get on the bus. But it’s fine. I’m locked in my own little world of Sweet Caroline and Mumford and Sons and that one Primus song that goes dun dun dundundundun.
But then somebody plays a slide whistle. Over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over.
And the rage builds up inside me with each whistle until I turn around ready to say “Can you please stop that?” in a calm yet intimidating voice. But when I turn, it’s one of seven teenaged girls who look like mini crackwhores and I know that anything I say will be used against me and I’ll just make it worse.
I try to ignore them but the whistle is so loud and why isn’t anyone saying anything and why isn’t the bus driver doing anything about this and I just want to punch that girl in the face and maybe I’m going to go on a killing spree.
Finally it’s really too much, it’s either scream for real or get away from the sound, so I get up and go downstairs. It was pretty full down there, but there was an open seat right in front of a couple drunk guys talking about really disgusting sex stuff. P.S. it was like two thirty in the afternoon on a Monday.
I turned up the volume on my music until their slurring words were just background noise and stared out the window, deciding I just might survive the day after all.
And then there it was. Slide whistling. Over and over and over and over. The crack whores had come downstairs to get off the bus. But at least they were getting out. It would be okay.
I smiled as they stepped out of the bus. But, as slide whistle sounds are apparently very catchy, one of the drunk men behind me began WHISTLING THE SLIDE WHISTLE SOUND. Over. And over. And over. And over.
And that’s when I killed everybody. Just kidding. But my head literally* exploded.
*Duh, I know what literally means, I was just trying to get you to imagine my head exploding in a bus, so save it grammar jerks.