I was down in the dumps and trying to find myself. Every time I put the pen to the page to write my feelings it was somebody else’s voice coming through. Not like I was channeling spirits or anything. It was just that anything I wrote didn’t feel genuine to me. I was trying to write about things I had no experience with and getting frustrated when I got writer’s block.
Anyway, that’s what came to my mind while sitting here in the bus station. The bathrooms didn’t have any soap, so I was watching how many people would come out with dry hands and looks of disgust. Not too many people went into the bathroom and those that did took too long, so I lost interest. Sorry if I’m rambling. Unless you like rambling, in which case I’ll ramble on. Hey, good song.
I usually like listening to music when there’s nobody with me, but today I just didn’t feel like it. Watching the fellow travelers go about their days is entertaining enough for me. This one lady, she’s snoring on the bench with her mouth wide open. I’m covering my mouth and giggling, hoping she doesn’t wake up and notice me. A lot of other people are just on their phones with headphones on and miserable faces. At least when I have my headphones on, I’m smiling. I wish they’d smile. They’d feel a lot better if they did. I see a guy reading and he doesn’t look miserable, so that gives me hope.
The bus to New York pulls in. The muffled voice you can hardly understand over the crummy speakers announces it. Most of the people gather their things and form a line in front of the door to the bus. A boy comes out of the bathroom with dry hands and nudges the sleeping lady awake.
She jerks awake and is looking all around. It’s like she forgot where she was. Her squinting eyes find her son and go wide for a second. He stands there with his arms swinging.
“Our bus is here mama” he squeaks.
“Okay,” she yawns, “help mama with her bags.”
With two hands, the boy drags the heavy suitcase along to their place in line. The mother follows behind him with the rest of her bags.
Somebody at the door to the bus is arguing with the old man checking tickets. For some reason his ticket won’t scan. He’s insisting he paid for it online. The ticket man doesn’t care. He’s tired and apathetic. He seems like he’s been doing this for many years. I’m sure this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with this. He tells the man to buy a new ticket at the desk.
He insists he already paid. He doesn’t need a new ticket. The people behind him are growing restless. They start muttering and one shouts at him to hurry it up.
Obviously frustrated, he finally concedes and lugs his bag over to the ticket desk. Apparently, he’s on important business and can’t afford to miss his meeting. He says he’ll buy the ticket again and figure it out later.
The reading man stands in like and glances from his book over at the businessman periodically. His interest is split between the book and his surroundings. The woman also glances over, interested, but her child just stares towards the bus smiling.
The young lady behind the counter regrets to inform him that the bus is full. She’s genuinely sorry. She hasn’t been disillusioned by years of work yet. He grows frustrated with her. Well, more the situation, but it just so happens that he’s angry and she’s right there. He starts yelling at her, is she an idiot? What the hell is wrong with you people? They tell him that his tickets invalid and he has to buy a new one and now he can’t even buy a new one? What a bunch of idiots.
The line has moved ahead now. The reading man is shooting daggers over his shoulder at the businessman. The woman shakes her head at the businessman and the boy asks why that man is yelling.
The poor young lady is tearing up. Go ahead and cry, he tells her, you’re not the one missing out on thousands of dollars. You’re not the one whose job is on the line, but it will be once I call your boss about this mess. She retreats to the back room with tears running down.
Only the reading man, who isn’t reading anymore, and the woman and child are left to board. They’re staring at the businessman. The reading man still with daggers and the woman shaking her head. The boy tugs on his mother’s shirt and tells her it’s their turn. The businessman’s fury-filled eyes find theirs.
“What the hell are you staring at!” he shouts at them, arms akimbo.
The reading man points at him, finger wagging, “That wasn’t cool.”
“Not cool?” he asks angrily, “These idiots ruined my whole day! Now I might be fired! How’m I gonna feed my family? Pay my bills!”
“It’s not that child’s fault” the mother tells him, “I was gonna offer you my ticket, but after the way you acted you don’t deserve it” she gives him one last look up and down, then turns to board the bus. Her sun is jumping with joy. Their ticket clears and they load onto the bus. The reading man moves forward to board. His ticket clears too.
“Whatever, I don’t need anybody’s damn ticket!” he’s shouting towards the bus at no one in particular, “I need my damn lawyer is what I need!” He crumples the ticket and throws it towards the bus. It falls short. Way short. I don’t really know what he was aiming for. Angrily, he snatches up his suitcase and whips out his phone. He begins yelling into it as he exits the building.
The young lady peers out the door to see if the coast is clear. Seeing that the man is gone, she steps back out to her place at the counter. Her red eyes meet mine and I smile. She smiles back. Then her eyes find the crumpled paper on the ground. Other than that paper, the ground is clear of any trash. Curiously, she moves from around the counter to pick it up. The ticket man shuffles past her and into the back room as the bus backs away from the terminal.
As she crouches for it, I see her name tag says ‘Rachel.’ Rachel stands and uncrumples the paper. She begins laughing. Rachel can’t stop laughing and laughing. My curious eyes meet hers, now filled with tears of laughter. Her laughter finally slows down enough for her to speak. She holds the paper towards me.
“That idiot booked his ticket for tomorrow.”