Hey Team,

I stepped up into the doorway resigned to the upcoming fifty-three hour marathon only to be slapped in the face by a wall of stale air. A quick look around shows only one empty seat; not leaving me the usual option of scouring the bus for the least stained place to plant myself. It’s the front seat. Not a terrible spot. At least not as compared to all of the other terrible spots. Notable drawbacks: No reading light, less leg room (but since the leg room is minimal anyway I go in expecting discomfort), and a little old lady who thinks she can “save me” by convincing me I should settle down and get married, “maybe have a few kids.”

I fold myself into a good book silently throwing out all the social cues I can muster to drive the point home that I don’t want to be having this conversation. The next forty-five minutes only bring me two pages closer to the climax. She needs no prompting to ask the next question and a never-ending string of one-word answers are nothing in the face of her persistence.

“Were you married once already?”

“No.”

“Is there a girl back home?”

“No.”

I think she’s secretly hoping I’ll just tell her I’m gay so she’ll have something to talk about at church on Sunday. Eventually she’s gone. People come and go but I have no reason to move.

That evening I change seats just so I’ll have a light to read by. The man sitting next to me smells like stale cigarettes. I blame him for the air quality on the bus even though he was still hundreds of miles away when I first boarded. His legs are spread wide looking for any available space to call their own. Typical. I do the same but can’t help but think what an uncomfortable situation it is to be forced into such close quarters with a stranger you don’t respect. A stranger you (right or wrong) already blame for prior discomforts.

Across the aisle a man randomly apologizes for everything he does, often causing a greater disruption in the process. Sometimes yelling nonsense into the void. I can’t tell if he knows what he’s doing.

“HOW Y’ALL LIKE TENNESSEE?!” We’re in Oklahoma.

“I’M SORRY! I APOLOGIZE TO ANYONE SLEEPING!” He raises his voice beyond his original question. It’s 11:30 pm.

Silence.

“I’M SORRY! THAT WAS AN ACCIDENT! I APOLOGIZE!” He holds his hands up in the air to show his sincerity. I’m three feet from him but would never be able to tell you what he’s apologizing for. It’s midnight.

The book gets better. No reason to complain. This is all status quo when you expect the unexpected. Keep your patience on its toes and it’s easier to bob and weave through the obstacle course of Greyhound.

The pace picks up and I’m absorbed. Whatever is happening in the “real world” has nothing to do with me.

At least, until the stale breath begins to carry with it a story.

“Oklahoma City was just too slow for me(youknowwhatI’msayin)”

“I just want to get back to Dayton(youknowwhatI’msayin) Back to my little girl(youknowwhatI’msayin) She’s all that matters to me(youknowwhatI’msayin) I needed a faster pace(youknowwhatI’msayin)”

“That’s admirable.” I smile. I look him in the eyes. I listen to his story. That’s all he wants and I’m happy to oblige.

After he’s done I sit and think. What would it be like if I actually said the word “period” after every sentence. I’m relatively sure that’s how he’s using the phrase “You know what I’m saying?” I don’t think he’s actually checking up on me. I don’t think he wants me to keep answering that question.

His story told he sits back and closes his eyes. I go back to reading. Finally I’m the only one in my world. Discomfort or not I can pretend I’m somewhere else. Watching through a window into a fictional world. A world where people can move freely in the moment, where they aren’t confined to a two-foot square. I’m envious now but I know as soon as I make it over this hurtle there’s nothing but real world adventure on the other end.

“Hey man. Could you turn off that light(youknowwhatI’msayin)” Apparently sometimes it’s a question mark.

One more day and I’m in Scranton.

I’m done.

Brett.





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