Nothing like taking the bus out of state last weekend to remind me how much I love the train.
The bus--so cramped, so chaotic. And one of the stations so particularly grimy and sad. But the ride, at an eminently reasonable $32.50, was just 1/3 the price of a last-minute train ticket, and I'm thrifty, so.
It's just 3 1/2 hours, how annoying can it be?
Well--on the way South, there was a fella who decided to show off his admittedly impressive knowledge of Mandarin Chinese at top volume to the stunned Chinese tourists wearing "God's Army" t-shirts. Over the next several hours, I learned all about the 8 years he spent in China and Indonesia. Not that it wasn't interesting, but it was a conversation you absolutely couldn't
sleep through, or opt out of.
3 days later, coming home, the exact same guy(!) falls into line a few spots behind me, loudly boasting to some lady (apropos of very little) that he has a degree in neuroscience. Well, okay. I'm sure that came up naturally while wrangling a pair of suitcases.
2 stoners followed every single statement the bus driver made about bus rules (including "try not to use the bathroom") with either "Yeah!" or "I love you!" and then tilted their chairs back so dramatically that something may have in fact malfunctioned. (I was compelled to do the same, thus setting off a Nuclear Arms Race of Seat-Tilting.)
As we left town, the neuroscientist made 2 Very Important Phone Calls.
"What have you got? Is it quality? What kind? It IS? Hold onto it. I'll pay double. I'LL PAY TRIPLE. TRIPLE. Haha!"
(My seatmate grumbled into the book she was reading.)
"Heyyyyyy. Is this Jake junior or Jake senior? I've been fooled before, I won't get fooled again! Ah. Jake Junior! My man. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Jake. Jake. I spoke up for you, man, and they told me that three months ago we would have hired you, but we just don't have enough time to get a new guy up to speed. And I said--you're telling me that the exact same man who would've been good enough in March isn't someone we can hire now
? You're kidding me. YOU'RE KIDDING. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm on a bus. I'm drunk. Jake. Jake. Jake. JAKE. I WILL PUT MY REPUTATION ON THE LINE FOR YOU. I will vouch for you. My career--MY CAREER on the line for you. Don't let me down, Jake. You've got the degree we want. I've got your back. I'll see what I can do. Contact the manager on Monday. No, Tuesday. I'll talk to him. And then I'll cram knowledge into your head 18 hours a day. Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP. JAKE. You're my boy. You're my boy, Jake. Jake. JAKE."
The Most Interesting Man in the World repeated the above in several new and astonishing combinations for--quite seriously--the next 35 or 40 minutes, while I wondered fiercely if anything in Jake's emotional makeup actually required these ministrations, or even if he existed at all. The bus driver's voice came over the loudspeaker about 10 minutes into the conversation and told our distinguished medical marijuana entrepreneur to pipe down, which he did immediately, with obsequious apology (before his voice gradually crept back up). My seatmate was so irritated that she told him to be quiet on her way back from the bathroom. He was not as impressed with her opinion.
Of course, it was still more fun than the time when the friendly hippie girl next to me said "Vegas, huh? . . . Bringing a lot of money with you?" (completely ruining my already tenuous ability to sleep, until she hopped off the bus at 6am) . . . or the Rastafarian who wouldn't stop moan-singing some damn song he'd made up in between preaching about the Rapture on my way back from Vegas . . . or the time on my way back from the '01 Burn, when I felt compelled to tell playa story after playa story to an enormous guy named Junior, so he would see me as human, and resist stabbing me in the neck if I napped. You can't kill Scheherazade.
Man, I have got
to start buying my train tickets ahead. My luck won't hold forever.