Monday, September 01, 2003

Leave the driving to us. (You supply the violent psychosis.)

From now on, I'm taking the train.

There's something about the bus ride from Kingston to Toronto. Getting from Toronto to Kingston is usually no problem. I mean, this time, my walkman batteries went dead, and I was left with only the crushing weight of my own thoughts for company (with the exception of the nattering of the too-friendly old guy a couple of rows ahead who was inflicting himself on some other guy, and thankfully not me). But on the whole, the trip there is uncrowded and uneventful.

But the way back is a different story. It never gets as bad as my all-time worst bus ride, which took place ten years ago -- on Canada Day, 1993 -- when I won tickets to go see Van Halen at Molson Park in Barrie. Not only was the bus incredibly uncomfortable, with upholstery so rough and sharkskin-like that it actually left me chafed and bleeding, but the stoner behind me managed to take a mighty hit off his bong, choke, and spit and splutter bong water all over the back of my head and neck. Then he apologized profusely and gave me many, many limp handshakes that felt like he was trying to hand me a dead fish. It was thoroughly unpleasant.

The Kingston-Toronto trip isn't that bad. But it's always more crowded and hard to get a couple of seats all to yourself. And last time, a couple of guys got busted for giving each other blowjobs right there in the seat, without even cover of darkness, let alone a blanket or jacket. (And justly so; this is what the bathroom is for.) I became aware of what was happening when the guy behind them realized what was going on and started yelling at them very loudly and angrily, so that the whole bus could hear. When we arrived in Toronto, the bus driver asked everyone to remain in their seats until he could check on something and went back and consulted with the complainant. Then the both of them got off the bus, only to return with a security guy. The offended passenger fingered (figuratively) the offenders, who were asked to remain onboard as the rest of us disembarked. I don't know how the whole thing turned out, but I imagine they were given a good tonguelashing about giving each other ... well, a good tonguelashing.

This time, the woman in front of me started talking loudly in her sleep, yelling mostly unintelligible things. I think I caught something like, "They won't let you into Toronto! You're a Jew!" The anti-Semitism was somewhat appropriate (insofar as such a thing can be) because I happened to be reading a copy of Marathon Man that I'd lifted from my friend Scott's laundry room. But it still made no sense. After this went on for a while, I eventually peered over the the seat to see what was going on -- and maybe tell her to shut up -- only to see her staring right back at me. She wasn't talking in her sleep at all. She was just a raving lunatic. Fortunately, she was the only person on the bus who didn't have to share a seat, which is what allowed her to be lying down -- if not napping -- in the first place. "The guy behind me, he killed Kennedy!" she yelled. Me? I killed JFK? I wondered. Or did I kill RFK? John-John or Bobby?

Occasionally, she'd return to a sitting-up position and at unpredictable times, thrash and flail around spasmodically. At that point, I started wondering if she was going to come over the seat at me. How would I explain things to the authorities if I had to break her arm or ram her head through the window? I didn't see how I'd be able to deal with her with anything less than incapacitating force. (I always assume myself to have certain untested but lethal ninja-like powers.) Eventually, however, she just dropped off to sleep. When we got to Scarborough, the driver came back and woke her up, since her ticket only took her that far. She grumbled and whined something barely intelligible. The driver asked, "You want to go to downtown Toronto?" She whined affirmatively, and we drove to the downtown terminal, where she got off and continued on her way. Security wasn't called; I guess the bus company just throws its hands up in the air and says, "Whatever" in such situations.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to save money by buying a ticket only valid for part of your trip, and if you want to guarantee getting a seat to yourself to boot, this is exactly how you should behave.

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