WARNING: The following is gross in nature and may cause you to throw up in your mouth. I know I wanted to. I still want to.

 I have decided to document my bus ride this morning.

It starts out as usual, walking to the stop, waiting, getting on—all the normal boring stuff. The only difference is my outfit. Typical work-wear consists of something casual. Nice, but casual and comfortable. But today, ah, today is different. Today I am meeting clients for a seminar and am dressed up in a slimming navy and white dress, pearls, and red kitten heels. I look good.

Perhaps a little too good. Maybe I should have put less effort in.

As I make my way to the back, a woman comments on my outfit. “Wow, I just have to say, I love your dress. It’s beautiful! Your whole outfit, you look so…elegant!”

I’m flattered, as I should be. I thank her, stammering something about how I love the dress but I have no idea where it’s from.

Naturally, she asks, “Where’s it from?”

“I honestly don’t remember. I’ve had it for years. Probably Wal-mart.”

Her mouth drops, “Really? Wow! What about the shoes?”

Those I know are from Wal-mart, so I tell her.

“You must be wearing really expensive clothes! It looks like it costs so much!”

This should be my first clue that this young woman isn’t all here. After all, I did say I’m basically wearing a Wal-mart special. But I tell her anyway, “No, it was all under $50.” (Heck, it was probably all under $30, including the purse. What can I say? I know how to look good on a budget—when I try…)

She continues to be impressed. I tell her it’s not normal for me to dress up, but I’m meeting clients today.

She’s not that impressed. She asks what I do.

“I work in radio.”

That catches on. “What station?”

"CHUM. Curve, Bob, CFRW.”

“Wow! So then you know Beau, Tom and Dez?”

“Well, it’s Frazier now.”

“Oh yeah. What happened to Dez?”

I have no idea, I'm just an intern! I know they wanted Frazier back and they got her, but I don’t know why Dez left, if it was even by choice.

I make something up.

“She found another opening in a different market.”

Uninterested, “oh.”

OK, deep breaths. You’re not even 5 minutes into the bus ride and already this girl won’t leave you alone. That’s OK, though, other people will come and sit between you and all will be well.

Oh how wrong I am!

She picks up her bags and slides over to sit next to me. I’m flattered that she wants to talk, but I really want to read my book. I have about 17 books to get through in the next 10 days. The bus is my best shot.

What now?

She continues to ramble on, excited about her first date with this new guy named Riley. He’s in a band—he really likes metal. They are going to see Alice and Wonderland on Sunday.

She smiles and gushes about Riley some more, then picks at the gunk in her eye and pops it in her mouth and keeps going.

Yes, you read that right—she ate her eye gunk.

Clue number two that she isn’t all here right now.  And yet off it goes, flying past my head.

People do all kinds of weird things.

Some people still pick their noses and eat it (not pointing any snotty fingers, though!). Yes, it’s disgusting, but I won’t judge you if you do it. We all do stupid things, or at least things that other people consider gross, stupid, or offensive. You can’t please everyone. Plus we’re on the bus—if she likes to eat eye gunk, she can go ahead and eat it. (I try not to throw up in my mouth as she does this.) You know, I once went to school with a guy who used to eat his scabs. (Shoot, again I am trying not to throw up in my mouth!)

But back to the bus.

She has just eaten eye gunk and now she is telling me about her future plans of not getting pregnant (yes, we’ve just met) as she asks me if I have kids.

“I have a 9 year-old.”

“And how old are you?”

I can see she’s already trying to do the math. Why must people judge. “I’m 28. But she’s my step-daughter.”

“How old is your husband?”

Really? More math?

“He’s 32.” Some quick math shows that he was 21 when she was born. Yup, he was in his 20s—nothing worthy of judgment about that!

The girl shifts and continues to tell me about awkward topics: her obsession with Tim Burton movies, past and future Halloween costumes, being sexually abused by a much older man, her fears of having a baby and then having CFS take said baby away—you know, typical banter that you share with strangers. (By the way, Riley has 3 kids (from 2 different women—I didn’t need to know that either, but since I do, I decided so should you) who have all been taken away by CFS. He has fetal alcohol syndrome. They also attend the same day program—clue three.)

As she is telling my all about Prudence (who is Prudence??!!), she notices a stray chin hair.

No, make that three stray chin hairs.

“I hate chin hairs,” she complains.

“Yup, me too. Aren’t they just the worst?” I’m trying really hard to be sympathetic. By now I know that she isn’t completely healthy upstairs.

Also she doesn’t stop talking.

She begins to pick at her chin hairs with her fingers.

“I wish I had some tweezers!”

I look down at my bag, knowing that I do not have any, and if I did, I would soooo not want them back after giving them to a complete stranger on the bus.

Man, I wish I had tweezers.

“Do you have long nails?”

I quickly ball up my fists, “No, not really.”

Ha! I’m a liar! I have beautiful long nails. I don’t paint them either because the whites are already so white. Plus I have a really good idea why you want to know if my nails are long, and I won’t do it, I won’t—I won’t! That’s just gross!

“Well could you just try?”

You’re joking, right? You don’t seriously want me to pick at your chin hairs, do you? Lord, please tell me she’s joking!

“I don’t know…”

She shoves her chin into my face. I can see all three hairs just sitting there, waiting to be plucked—by tweezes, not by a stranger’s nails!

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

She shoves her chin further into my face. If passersby didn’t know better, they’d think we were preparing to make out. I’m happily married and don’t really like girls that way. She’s already told me about her last relationship with a girl, which is fine, but like I said—I’m married! (and I don’t like girls that way.)

I say no again, this time more firmly, but she continues to get in closer.

I don’t know what to do.

I feel like the walls of the bus are closing in on me. It’s horrible. I can’t breathe. She’s so close. Those chin hairs are just staring at me. What am I going to do? She’s got me cornered. I’m stuck between the back corner of the bus and a crazy person with three stray chin hairs and I really need to throw up now.

So I take a deep breath and do what a normal person would do.

I pull the cord and get off the bus.



If only!

I reach forward and pluck at her chin hairs. Why, I ask you, why? Why wouldn’t she just accept my “no”?! Why did she keep pushing further and further into my personal space?! Why oh why oh why?!

And why did I do it? What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I think to pull the cord and get off the bus?

I know exactly why—I didn’t want to offend her. Isn’t that awful?

So what happened next?

I wasn’t able to pull out the full hair, but a got a little piece of it. She was thrilled. I wanted to throw up.

My stop couldn’t come fast enough. I probably could have got off sooner, but she knew what stop I was getting off of. She had asked me much earlier. I would have felt like a terrible person lying to her and being caught. (Kind of like lying about my nails being long…but who am I kidding? I don’t feel bad about not wanting to touch her gross face with my lovely, long nails!)

Finally, we’re getting closer to it.

“Yours is the next stop.”

Oh I know, crazy lady, I know!

“I hope you have a really nice day. I’m Tabitha, by the way.”

She reaches out to shake my hand—not far mind you, since she’s sitting so close to me. I accept and shake back. “I’m Rachel.”

Again—where is my brain? Why didn’t I make a name up? I like the name Abby, I like the name Sara—heck, today I even would have been a Gertrude! But nope, I’m an idiot. “I’m Rachel.”

She tells me to have a nice day.

I wish her luck on her date with Riley.

Then I cross the street, get to my next bus stop and start digging through my purse for hand sanitizer.

From this point on, I will always carry tweezers.
4/21/2010 12:32:01 am

Oh honey, I was eating while I was reading this.... PUKE.

In any event it's very well written and that's a plus! Now go have a bath.


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