Humor from on High

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tales From the Bus

I'm beginning to love riding the bus.

Formerly, public transportation was a wholly unknown quantity to me, but I have recently had to rely more on it than ever before. When I was in graduate school, I lived within walking distance of school/work, and I never had to drive or ride. I didn't put too many miles on my car in those days. And prior to that, I lived at my parents home (read: Boondocks, MN...or as my high school friends used to call it, Guam), where no bus route would dare to go. So there has never been a good reason, and to be quite frank, I was a little scared of the whole process in those days. It was a combination; the inherent baseline level of fear in doing anything new for the first time, plus when you're freakishly tall, you tend to attract the attention of basically everyone, but nut-jobs in particular...and there are a fair number of those on the buses. In fact, if The Office (a great show) doesn't do an episode about riding the bus to work sometime, I'm going to be upset. You could probably get a whole sitcom out of it, and the parade of hilarious Heller-like characters would write themselves.

Now, there are a number of maneuvers one can use to avoid nut-jobs on the bus. There are the tried and true methods; "reading a book", "listening to iPod", or "wearing sunglasses." Those are standard techniques that have stood the test of time. But sometimes they don't work. The typical nut-job is probably very familiar with all of these techniques, and has evolved clever ways to circumvent them such as; "constantly talking until someone pays attention to me", or "appearing to want to engage in a normal conversation before flipping the 'crazy switch.'" So, this forces you to come up with new and improved techniques. My personal new favorite, and it isn't going to work for everyone, is the "sorry, but I'm so tall that I don't quite fit in the seat, and especially with this large leather case I'm carrying, so there really isn't room for you" posture. I highly recommend it if you're 6'2" also. "Staring into the back of someone's head" is also very popular. And effective.

But not everyone on the bus is an out and out nut-job, per se. In fact, that specimen is actually pretty rare. Usually, there are just a lot of peculiar types on the bus, with their own special collection of quirks. And even some people who are probably very normal, but who you can't resist making up a wild story about in your head. Because, after all, bus rides tend to get long, and we need to entertain ourselves. And stories we make up about them are no doubt much more interesting than the actual story. But also, you might find yourself wondering, "Who in their right mind would wear a jacket like THAT?" Or, "Is that guy mumbling insane rhetoric to himself, or continually repeating instructions on how to make a bomb he just got and doesn't want to forget, or just some tune he heard on the radio on his way out?" Or, "If that girl wanted to make herself appear even sluttier, would it even be possible? What could she possibly change?" These are very important questions. And they require answers.


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