Friday, December 14, 2007

Crazy bus lady

Yesterday I added my own tiny thread of crazy to the endless tapestry of bus stories in the world.

I stopped at a bakery on the way home and reboarded the next bus. Clutching a bag of crusty loaves, I maneuvered my way down the aisle to an inward-facing seat inside the middle, articulated section of the bus. One or two stops later I was joined there by an adolescent girl wearing brightly striped socks and talking on her cell phone.

Talking on your cell phone on the bus isn't, in my personal Book of Justice, an unpardonable offense. But talking LOUDLY on your cell phone on the bus, or at the bus stop, or in the grocery store is a rude intrusion. Rather than respond in kind, however, I responded by becoming a slightly crazy bus lady.

"HELLO?" my seat partner bellowed into her phone as if to her aged grandmother.

"Hello," I responded quietly, looking straight ahead.

"I'M ON THE BUS," the girl shouted after a pause.

I looked off casually toward the front of the bus. "Hey, me too," I softly agreed.


"That's where I'm at."


"I'm about there myself."

I kept my "responses" soft and casual, never glancing in the direction of my seat partner. After a few "exchanges" she hung up and sat sending text messages. I stared out the windows and hummed quietly to myself. Soon her phone rang again.

"HELLO?" she shouted, if possible even louder than before.

"Hello!" I said cheerfully.

"I'M ON THE BUS!" she said again.

"Me too!" I agreed.

There was a longish silence. I watched the sky through the window and waited. Abruptly my seatmate stood and stalked to the back of the bus, where she continued her conversation. Either she lowered her voice, or the noise of the bus kept the rest of her words from my ears. Inwardly I chuckled with passive-aggressive success; whether or not she had heard my crazy little dialogue, my goal had been realized.

Any question I might have had about whether my behavior had actually caused her relocation was soon answered when I again heard her raised voice. Speaking to one of her friends in the back, she explained in frustrated tones, "No, it was like she was answering me every time, you know? I said, 'I'm on the bus,' and she goes, 'me too,' like that."

I almost laughed out loud when I heard the response. Her friend, confused, asked, " she was on the phone with her mom, at the same time as you were on the phone with your mom?"

"Noooooo," the loud girl wailed. "Look, I'll try it again." I kept staring out my window, so I couldn't see whether she lifted her phone to her ear; all I heard was the familiar, "HELLO?"

I stayed silent.


I checked my watch and yawned.

I didn't catch any further conversation, so I don't know if she ever managed to explain our "interaction" to her friend. But we got off at the same bus stop, and she hopped into a waiting car. As I strolled back past the car I kept my eyes fixed off in the distance until just as the car began to pull away. At the last second I turned my head, caught her eye, and winked broadly.