I arrived on time Sunday afternoon at South Station, got in line, no problem. I know the Bolt routine. I board & take an aisle seat near the front. I watch the boarding queue inside the terminal to assess my potential seatmates. I see a guy in a gray shirt rapidly but confusedly moving through the area. “Rube!” I think, hoping to spot a tiny girl carrying a neck pillow, maybe with her jaw wired shut? (dream candidate!)
I avert my eyes as the Rube gets through the door and ascends the bus stairs. Of course, he motions that he wants my window seat. Metro body type- gay? Not in those flip flops! Without a pleasantry, breaks out his phone and begins chatting in Deutsche. Oh, he’s Aryan. Germans make me nervous, sorry. Blame Britain’s appeasement policy.
(“Gay or European?” is a favorite game I’ve been playing for years. Herr Seatmate was just another round of that.)
I hope it’s a brief notification call, but I recognize “Andy Murray” & “Wimbledon” and resign myself to a long oblivious sorta rude convo. Mercifully, about 10 minutes later, he concludes. Noticing me looking out the window, he asks, “are you on the right bus?” which is weird, because 1) is that the main reason people look at the sky? Some kind of geopositioning? and 2) if I thought I was on the wrong (moving) bus, would I calmly look out the window like “huh.” ? No. “No,” I responded, “I am in the right bus- I am just noticing it suddenly looks like rain.” (This was projection of the most obvious sort, since I’d literally just watched him run cluelessly around the queues minutes before.)
Also, concurrent with the above: Shortly after Herr Seatmate settled in, a bigger dude with a full beard, dungeonmaster-style, boarded holding an open magnetized chessboard, mid game (presumably self-play), like a cocktail tray. Ah, I could do worse than a skinny Euro, I realized, as he took a seat not next to me.
When Herr Seatmate went to the lav, I peeped his paperback: “Guide to Protein Purification” part of the Methods of Enzymology series. Oh. Well. A little light bus reading, I guess?
The midpoint break is common, though not inevitable. Less common is a break when running behind schedule, as we were, thanks to the heavy rain that did indeed come as I expected. I get it, people want snacks. However, I am not cool with a break that stretches from a stated 15 minutes to a ridiculous 35 minutes. Does this driver not understand this is a bus full of New Yorkers going home?
Also, the break is usually at some horrid little Roy Rogers rest stop. This stop was at a Wendy’s in a full-sized suburban shopping center in New Haven, where I experienced the thrill of victory (there’s a Panera across the parking ocean!) and the agony of defeat (whaddaya mean ‘closing an hour early for ‘Bread Bash’?? I want you to sell me some overpriced lettuce mix!!)
But I used their bathroom instead of waiting in line with my fellow busketeers at Wendy’s. I counted that as a win.
And of course, upon reboarding, the whole bus stunk of fries.