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Adventure on the Bus

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At least it wasn't boring.

As the December snowstorm descended upon us late last year, I boarded the bus that would take me from a social function at The Ohio State University to home. Heavy white flakes gently fell from the sky, slowly piling a layer of fluffy white snow upon every exposed surface. In twenty minutes, it would become a hazard but for now, it was nothing but charming.

After moving to the back of the bus, I settled into one of the three seats that made up a bench with its back against the side of the bus and began to read the academic journal published by the center I just finished visiting. My awareness of my environment faded as my mind was absorbed by the dense language of the academy.

My peripheral vision caught the red and blue flashing lights up ahead of the bus, which had come to a stop. Figuring that there must be some traffic altercation, I turned slightly and looked out the window behind me to see if I could tell what was happening.

I saw neither a row of bumper-to-bumper traffic in the next lane nor a sidewalk full of gawkers to indicate the severity of the situation. Instead, I saw four Columbus police officers with their sidearms drawn. Looking toward the front of the bus and the source of the flashing lights, I realized that the bus had been surrounded. The driver was talking on the private handset, presumably to a COTA dispatcher.

Front and rear doors opened simultaneously and the officers entered through both doors, filling the aisleway of the crowded bus completely. The officers' radios blared a muddled voice, with an occasional word making itself distinguishable from the rest of the police dispatcher's transmission.

... Robbery ... Clintonville ... two assailants ... description ... black ... jacket ... boarded bus ...

From this we infer that a robbery had been reported in Clintonville, a mile or so earlier in the route, directly to the north of the present position. From the firepower the police brought into the bus we infer that it was an armed robbery.

“Everyone please put your hands on top of your heads for a minute and we can have you on your way again,” announced one of the officers. “Can we ask you a few questions?” asked another officer to one of the passengers who apparently matched the (vague) description of one of the robbers. A second was identified and questioned briefly by another officer.

After perhaps two minutes, both men returned to their seats. “Thank you for your cooperation, everyone. Sorry for the inconvenience,” announced the first officer. The police officers all exited the bus, the police van blocking the bus' path moved, and the bus got moving again.

Giggly college girls in the very back row couldn't believe what had just transpired. One called her mother to relate the story in full. As that conversation wound down and ended, another one was trying to get started.

He appeared to be in his forties, though he was so unkempt that estimation would prove difficult. It wasn't clear immediately but I realized that he wasn't just one nervous passenger making a random comment to another. He was actively trying to chat up these two girls that probably weren't even nineteen. His appearance likely made an impression on them, though that, like his hygiene, probably didn't work in his favor. It was when he began to speak, though, that he managed to clinch the deal, to ensure that the decision rendered would be the final decision. The girls might well have been but eighteen and silly besides, but even they know how properly to read a vocabulary of perhaps four hundred monosyllabic words gift-wrapped in slurred speech.

Alcohol certainly lowers inhibitions; it's hard to imagine that a man of sound mind with enough power over his faculties even to fake being in control would have gone for that.

The “conversation” mercifully came to an end as the girls, no longer giggling, exited the bus, having made it to their stop. (Their destination being City Center, they would no doubt soon discover another problem altogether.) In response to the farewell offered by their admirer, one of the girls responded, “Goodbye, weirdo!”

She landed on the sidewalk about the time that her words reached their intended target. As she wouldn't be around for the aftermath, her words had no upside; nothing was to be gained. She was not speaking in defense to hold someone unpleasant at bay but in revenge, a cutting word to get back at him for daring to speak to her. Alcohol might well have numbed his ability to tell the difference between good idea and bad idea, but it didn't spare him a little more pain in his day. He didn't look motivated to clean himself up, to get his act together, and to lay off the sauce.

The parting shot was just mean: bad form and unjustifiable. Thus to the mix of rattled nerves and alcoholic haze was added the aftermath of malice, to bring out all of the negative feelings of the affected. I retreated into the journal article I was reading before being dragged back into the world inside the bus. I managed to escape but I could not forget my adventure.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-10-19 09:05 AM


Posted by donetrawk at 2006-11-02 07:37 AM
I haven't taken a bus since high school, but I don't remember it being nearly as interesting as you have just described. Well done.
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