2-14-09 / Locomotive Breath

14 02 2009

A conversation struck up between me and a fellow passenger on my last ride home that was unremarkable except for the fact that the woman had the absolute worst breath I have ever smelled. I tried leaning away, but to no avail. I couldn’t think of a way to end the conversation without making myself look like a jerk (the lady was nice), so I lied to her and told her the next stop was mine. I got off, walked to a nearby market, bought a soda, and was back in time to catch the next one.

On the first bus ride of the day, though, I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so very tired. It was everything I could do not to fall asleep. If you ride the bus long enough, you’ll see someone sleeping from time to time. I always wonder if I should wake them up or not, but they always seem to wake up on their own whenever we pull into a station.

I’ve only fallen asleep on the bus once.

When I was a teenager I went to a party at a friend’s house on Halloween night. After the party ended, three of my friends and I all started walking home. We all lived in relatively the same direction, so we walked in a group, every so often one of us would branch off. Eventually, it was just me. I wasn’t able to get a ride home, and the buses had stopped running, so I was going to have to walk from right around Thurston High School all the way down to 4th street. It was cold, but I had a small blanket I had borrowed wrapped around my shoulders. I was pretty unhappy, but figured there were plenty of worse things than a long walk, and I wasn’t exactly relishing going home anyway. At least the walk would sober me up.

Walking past Albertson’s, I notice a number 11 is pulling up (this was before the EMX existed, back when the 11 went from Springfield to Eugene and back) as I walked up to a stop. Surprised (I assumed I had either read the timetable wrong or they were running a special bus because it was Halloween), I show the driver my pass, and get on. I sit down toward the middle of the bus, on the left side, lean up against the window, and promptly pass out.

I wake up to a passengerless bus, slowly turning. I look out the window and realize we are pulling into the bus garage. “Oh shit” goes through my mind “She didn’t see that I was still on because I was slumped over with a blanket covering most of me”, and I sit up. The driver is parking, and I walk down the aisle to tell her I’m still on the bus. I get to aboout two feet behind the white line and as I stop to tell her what happened, she turns around and lets loose the most bloodcurdling scream I have ever heard in my life. It chilled me to the bone. I had never felt more physical fear before or since that instant.

So, naturally, I screamed back.

“Oh Jesus!” She says “You scared me!” Her eyes are wide, she’s breathing heavily.

“S-s-s-sorry” is all I can stammer out.

I’m fairly confident we took ten years off of each other’s lives that night. I felt terrible. It’s dark, it’s Halloween, it’s so late, and here this lady is just trying to park her bus so she can go home and some doofus teenager scares the bejeesus out of her. I apologised, and we sort of laughed about the situation, and she gave me directions to where I was headed. Lucky for me, I wasn’t too far off.

I was thinking of this while I was on the bus, and it made me chuckle a little bit.

Then I remembered it was Valentine’s Day, and I was single, and I frowned again.




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