Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Lowered Expectations: Part IV
Within minutes we were standing at the Number One bus stop and Mike proceeded to enjoy a quick smoke like a junkie savoring a speedball. Eventually a bus came by bearing the rush hour crowd packed like lemmings into this, the transportational equivalent of a Vietnamese Tiger Cage on wheels.
Anyone with experience on the bus knows full well that with those god-damned overhead pull down windows, things remain ventilated only as long as the vehicle keeps moving. When the driver plays "hurry up and wait" at a stop during the hottest day of July with a full load aboard things swiftly become intolerable.
First, with one communal deep breath, all the Grade "A" Prime oxygen is GONE! Then, invariably, there are at least a half-dozen people on board that have only a sketchy knowledge of deodorant's existence and/or just don't use it because:
(1) IT'S AGAINST MY RELIGION
(2) THE ALUMINUM GIVES YOU ALZHEIMER'S
(3) I BELIEVE IN A SCENT-FREE ENVIRONMENT
Lemme tell you, folks, speaking as someone who actually has chemical sensitivities, I would rather risk a full-blown asthmatic fit then inhale some else's "stank".
Finally there comes the stifling heat. Men sweat, women sweat, seniors who routinely have their thermostats up on bust in August sweat, babies sweat, the metal and glass works sweat. Everybody sweats. It's one big sweat-fest. I wouldn't doubt that when the buses arrive back at Metro Transit headquarters in Dartmouth some poor bastard who draws the short straw has to go in and squeegee the floors down. Eeeeeewwww....
Anyhoo, there we are, me and Mikey. The bus is so packed we can't get a seat together, so we're left sitting across from one another in the aisle seats. We're leaning away from out moist and smelly seat-mates out into relatively free air. Since you would have been hard pressed to fit the kit bag in the back of a half-ton U-Haul let alone under a standard issue bus seat, it sits out in the narrow aisle like a bloated alligator carcass. New passengers are forced to crawl over it to get to the back of the bus and begin shooting us looks so dirty it could strip the paint off a battleship.
"So, Mike, c'mon, man! Lemme know what we're selling," I ask as the bus begins to move, mercifully taking on some air.
He looks remotely defeated then reaches down and unzips the bag. With all the gravity of the situation, I expect to finally discover just what that blindingly shiny thing was in the trunk of the "Repo Man" car or the "Pulp Fiction" briefcase.
Instead the contents of the satchel, now revealed before the hyperventilating masses, looks terribly innocuous. Everyone within line of sight leans forward like a council of witch doctors seeking divination in the spilt innards of a gazelle.
The bag contains many shrink-wrapped articles of baby clothing. Disney-themed pastel blue and pink sleepers, bibs bearing the image of a larval-stage Mickey Mouse and a batch of what I like to refer to as "chew toys" (soothers, pacifiers, et al).
To their credit the items didn't look like cheap Korean-made knock-offs that would spontaneously combust if exposed to direct sunlight. They looked pretty genuine. Since it seemed to me that Mike and Company didn't exactly look like Eisner-approved official distributors of "Little Mermaid" merchandise, wilds thoughts began to course through my head. Images of the Marketeers dressed in commando gear hanging out on the shoulder of the TCH constructing elaborate transport truck derailment tactics, then swarming over the wreck like Oprah on a turkey burger, carting off as much of the misbegotten wares before a Disney Rescue Rangers team could arrive on the scene to shoo them away.
Every rational thought told me right then and there to pull the cord and get off. Before going downtown the bus would take me very close to the Casa Del Slacker. Within minutes I could be sitting on the side porch with my friends during peak skin cancer hours engaging in witty parlance like:
"Man, you look really red. Do I look red?"
"Your pretty red, man, but I think I'm a lot redder than you."
But something prevents me from acting as the bus intersects Chebucto Road and keeps on truckin'. Perhaps it's my unwillingness to go back and tell my friends of yet another crushing defeat. Perhaps it's the unquestioning, mindless work ethic beaten into my head by my parents with that classic Maritime mantra: "You should be lucky to have a job...You should be lucky to have a job... You should be lucky to have a job."
But looking back on it I thinks it's just much more likely that I had nothing better to do that day, and, at the very least, this little misadventure would at the very least result in a "You'll look back on this one day and L-A-A-A-A-U-G-H!" kinda story.
I'm also glad I stayed, Gentle Reader, 'cuz this one's a dilly.