Waiting for the Night Bus

Never get a bus. That’s my policy.

Whenever I betray my policy, I live to regret it.

But every now and again–for reasons always elusive–I like to say “bugger the policy, let’s get the bus.”

I suppose I like to stick it to the man. Even if the man happens to be me: sober, reasonable me from the past who learned his lesson in being disappointed by buses and vowed to always stick to the policy in future. What does he know?

This is why, tonight, Samara and I found ourselves standing and waiting and swearing and waiting and hoping and waiting and waiting.

Do the drivers try to stick to the schedule any more? Do they even know there’s one?

(Somewhere in a bus terminus east of Montreal, a snoozing man thinks Maybe I should have told them about the schedule. Ah, they’ll work something out).

Walking is always better. You get home faster. I know this because it’s what I normally do. I almost always choose to walk precisely because of situations like this one teaching me (almost) a lesson.

Waiting tonight in the sticky heat, a skunk had blown off somewhere to make things more interesting.

I’ve never seen a skunk. Only smelled them. They are stinky phantoms of the night.

I should never have betrayed the policy.

I suppose we could have started walking once it became clear that the bus wasn’t coming any time soon, but it was always clear that the bus wouldn’t come any time soon. That’s why there’s a policy.

Sadly, when you’ve been waiting for twenty minutes, you’re invested: you have to carry on waiting until it comes, even if it takes until the Sun goes nova and swallows us all.

Never get a bus, I think, It’s so beautifully simple. Why didn’t I stick to the policy? The policy! The policy!

A raccoon trundled across the street. I wondered how he would interpret the skunk smell, but didn’t have time to witness it because the bus arrived just as things were getting interesting.

The bus finally ambled into our lives. It was acting all normal and reasonable as if it weren’t half an hour late in the middle of the night. Perhaps predictably, it was crammed with frustrated sleepy people.

It was one of those long buses with a concertina middle, so it looked like a bendy straw packed with meat.

We found ourselves crammed in between a twelve-foot-tall Rastafarian man and a tiny old woman with an eye patch.

The driver was playing opera on the radio.

“That reminds me,” said Samara, “I saw the opera singer on the bus this morning.”

I imagined the opera singer muscling in among the commuters in his tuxedo, rumbling a libretto. The passengers would throw flowers.

“Was he singing?”

“No,” she said, “He was wearing shorts.”

“Oh,” I said.

“I don’t like that at all,” said the eye patch woman, “it’s hard to picture an opera singer on a bus wearing shorts.”

“Very disconcerting,” said the Rastafarian.

I agreed. Why would an opera singer be wearing shorts on a bus? We will never know.

The night bus rumbled ever onward.

For all I know, I nodded off and we’re still on the night bus. Or worse, we’re still waiting for it and I slept through the raccoon/skunk reaction.

Maybe we’re all still waiting for the night bus and we’ve all nodded off.

Night bus. Night bus.

Night bus.

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