Sunday, September 28, 2008

Last Stop Crazyland

Sadly, it’s been a while since I’ve done anything more entertaining than ride the bus, but hopefully that will change with my upcoming trips. As it is, that’s all I’ve got for now.

So the new bus driver on the night shift is always on time, which of course is great for my Insider Edition-watching ways, but it appears he’s got a crazy switch that turns on whenever his peace is disturbed, as if he’s got some kind of a double-life as a zen master while he’s up there plowing through pot holes and cutting off old ladies at 80 miles per hour. I’m not sure why anyone would think that driving a bus during rush-hour Boston traffic would be a peaceful career option, but I guess that comes with the crazy switch.

At least once every night, he’ll pull the bus over on the side of the road due to some inevitable loud talkers in the back—always kids--and walk up to the offenders, scolding them about how they shouldn’t be “rocking his boat.” I pretend to be listening to my ipod when these episodes happen, but I always turn the volume way down so I can hear his little tirades, and I swear to goodness he actually told them not to “rock his boat.” I say kudos to the kids for not mentioning that he’s not, in fact, at the helms of a boat, but a clunky bus that makes more noise than those kids could ever dream of making, even after several trips to the Taco Bell.

Now every day, before the last stop, the bell will ring. We all know that you don’t have to ring the bell before the last stop, that of course the bus is going to stop anyway and that ringing the bell is just a waste of time, but the handicapped guy sitting in back row doesn’t know this, and every bus driver up until now has just ignored it. Not “don’t-rock-the-boat” Ernie, though. I couldn’t believe it when he yelled out the first time that it happened.

“You don’t have to ring the bell! It’s the last stop!”

I turned around, and, sure enough, saw the handicapped guy sitting behind me. He threw up his hands as if to say, “What did I do?” and all I could do was shrug back. I was tempted to fill Ernie in on the small little thing that the guy he was yelling at for being mentally challenged, was, in fact, mentally challenged, but chickened out, as I didn’t want his wrath turned on me. This week, however, after the inevitable ringing of the bell, Ernie called the handicapped guy up to the front of the bus once we had reached the stop.

“I want to talk to you,” he said, motioning with his fingers. I really, really wanted to stay and find out what on earth Ernie could’ve been “talking” to him about, since the handicapped guy couldn’t actually speak, but only motion with his hands, and only that with limited success, but, alas, I had to rush home to watch my shows.

The next day, when the bell rang again, I waited nervously for Ernie’s bark, but it never came. Maybe his conversation, which I can only imagine went something like, “Don’t ring the bell,” followed by drinking motions and shrugging on the part of the handicapped guy, clued Ernie in that he just had to deal with the situation. I sat back in my seat, relieved that at least this had been finally worked out.

I quickly came on the defensive again, however, upon exiting the bus, after a brief chat with Ernie about his plans for the weekend.

“Have a great time in Virginia, Ernie!”

“Yeah, I will. Do you want me to call you while I’m there?”

I froze. What on earth made him think I wanted him to call me? My inappropriate-date-asking bus driver count is officially up to four. I somehow managed to laugh it off and eluded giving him my phone number without setting off his crazy switch on me, but I’m not sure how I’ll be able to keep this up for an indefinite amount of time. I think handicapped guy has got it right—he may even be a genius in disguise—if shrugging shoulders and drinking motions will get people to leave you the hell alone, I am totally jumping on that bus.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Buses, Cabs, and Rowing Machines

I "woke up" at 4am last Saturday so I could make a 6am flight to Virginia to see my parents. I once swore never again to fly out that early, as I'd missed a flight while sitting at the gate due to the obscenely early hour and me not being much of a morning person. At least not without the help of a pot of coffee and a few Red Bulls. Nevertheless, I walked out to the front of my building--in complete darkness, by the way; I had no idea 4 in the morning was so f*ing dark--to meet my cab to take me to the airport. I was looking forward to getting a little nap in on the ride over but, alas, that was not to be. An overly made up middle-aged lady with luggage was standing outside the building, putting her bags into my cab.

"You don't mind if I give her a ride too?" the driver asked.

What was I going to do? Tell the bitch to walk? I grudgingly shook my head and got into the cab, bracing myself for the inevitable dreaded small talk.

She wasted no time, handing me her phone and ordering me to dial a number.

"Here. Dial this number for me!"

I'm not sure if she thought I was the cab driver's assistant--the only one in existence to my knowledge--or maybe she had arthritis, but at the time, in my sleepy state, the request seemed perfectly logical, albeit really annoying. A guy answered the phone with more orders for me.

"What's your apartment number, lady?" the guy barked.

I leaned over to the lady sitting next to me. "What's your apartment number?"

"Who wants to know?!"

Oh, for crying out loud ... "The guy you asked me to call!"

"Oh."

After a few more awkward relayed messages, I was finally taken off phone detail and silently prayed that she would not be on my flight. She wasn't, but a two-year-old, with apparently the same fear of flying I have, was. The baby cried the entire duration of the trip. It was the first time I've ever been grateful for having a crying baby on my plane and not some high-maintenance woman turning me into her personal assistant. It's all about perspective, people.

On a completely unrelated topic, there's this guy who's a dead-ringer for Stephen Colbert, complete with glasses, suit, briefcase, and Oxford shoes, who's been coming to the gym every night to work out. I hadn't realized it before, but it's really fricking weird to see someone working out in a suit. What's weirder is that he's not even really using the machine properly. He sits down on the rowing machine, directly in front of me, and does these odd stretching motions for about ten minutes, then hops off to lift weights. I could probably bench press the guy he's so scrawny, but he's on the Nautilus machine, pumping 10 lbs. of weight like he's fricking Hulk Hogan. I don't know why, but it really creeps me out. Not as much as the handicapped guy on the bus, but still.

Speaking of the bus, I had a great run of not being hit on any bus drivers, but that run was broken today. There's a new driver working the afternoon detail. I love him--he's right on time and has a lead foot that gets me to Boston with more than enough time for me to watch Inside Edition. Today, as I was getting on the bus, I made the mistake of making eye contact.

"Where you headed?" the driver chirped.

"Haymarket," I answered and, for some reason, all I can think of is that I must've been giddy just thinking about watching a full episode of Inside Edition, and I'm still kicking myself for saying it, but I stupidly, stupidly added, "I go all the way!" (As in all the way to Boston, people.)

"Amen to that!" he responded.

I am now officially part of the problem.