Turtle Envy

I’m jealous of turtles and hermit crabs.

I think I’ve already established that teaching turns me into a veritable Sonic-the-hedgehog spinning ball of anxiety.  Whenever hermit crabs and turtles feel stressed out, they can retreat into their shells and nobody says boo (except, of course, for that one douche kid that has to jam a stick in there or shake the poor critter until it dies, like this mutant…

However, I think if I turtled up in the middle of my classroom floor, my students might draw some unfair conclusions about my life choices and mental health.

Still, sometimes life gives me turtle envy.

For example, I had to make like a Liz Lemon and run away from the Redbox kiosk yesterday because there were youths standing in line behind me and it stressed my shit out.

Like this.

My husband replied, “Just imagine what your life would be like if you had real problems.”  Then, he had a real problem when I pulled out my toothbrush shiv (which I carry for just such occasions) and jammed it into his eye socket.

Anyway, because I’m a teacher, I’m poor, and because I’m poor, I often use the bus to get to work, and because I use the bus, I often arrive at work sweaty and exhausted and shell-shocked (heh) because, as we all know, if there is any situation that will soothe social anxiety it is cramming a nutjob into an enclosed space with fifty other nutjobs who smell of beer and sadness.

This post isn’t strictly about teaching, but it is about why, when I finally get to work on some days, I am already 5,000% over it.

Let me just explain to you some of the exciting opportunities public transportation offers:

1)      The chance to meet exciting new people!

A few weeks ago, I heard a man behind me having a phone conversation.  It sounded something like this:  “Carol, you’ve had a bad year Carol.  I’m sorry Carol.  You’ve had a bad year Carol.  You’ve had a bad year Carol.  Carol, you’re not well Carol.  I’m sorry Carol.”  I thought it was a pretty strange and redundant conversation.  Carol seemed to need a lot of reminders that she’d had a bad year, and I began to think she might be a little crazy.  I started to feel a little annoyed and wished he would call Carol back later rather than forcing everyone on the bus to hear his loud and repetitive conversation – until I stood up to exit the bus and realized the man was not talking into a phone at all.  He was talking to nobody.  Dude was having a Jon Nash (as interpreted by Russell Crowe) level meltdown.

Nothing to see here folks.

He’s got it all figured out.

Then I felt very sad.  I hope he’s ok.  I hope he’s not digging invisible implants out of his arm, or kidnapping some lady who resembles the invisible (or perhaps deceased) Carol.

On a lighter note, one day as I waited for the bus, a young lady was screaming obscenities into her phone, most of which I do not wish to repeat here.  I believe her baby-daddy had cheated on her, and she was letting him know, in no uncertain terms, that she was upset by saying, “Snort the s**t off my a**   ni**a!” over and over, along with “I’m fin-a make you [perform a sex act on me] b***!” (I provided my own version of her words inside the brackets because typing out what she really said made me blush).

I mightn’t have been so bothered by her colorful tirade (after all, I learned some terrific new insults and threats to use in my next altercation – I might not even need to break out the shiv) had there not been a young girl, no older than ten, standing close by.

This might have bothered me even less had the little girl not been her daughter.

Another time, I heard a young lady tell her friend, “I mean, I know I ain’t no bottom bitch but I ain’t no dumb bitch!”  And, according to my extensive research on prostitution from an episode of South Park I watched one time in which Butters inadvertently becomes  a pimp, a bottom bitch is a pimp’s best prostitute.

Do you know what I am saying?

Do you know what I am saying?

Oh, another time a nice senior citizen felt the need to tell me about her colposcopy.  She seemed lonely, so I smiled, nodded and asked general questions in all the right places.  I felt bad for her and nauseated all at the same time (a mixture of pity and nausea peppered with annoyance is pretty much standard operating procedure on the bust most of the time).

Sometimes, I’d really like to get these words tattooed across my face:   “Please, for the love of Shiva, the last thing on Earth I want right now is for you to talk to me, so please, let’s both pretend I’m not even here.”  However, I think that might hurt and would limit my employment opportunities.

2)       The opportunity to savor the exotic fragrances of your city.

Have you ever wondered what it smells like when a man has consumed so much alcohol before noon that he begins to excrete it from his pores?  If you ride the bus, you won’t wonder anymore.

Urine.

Vomit.

Dank bud.

Cologne.

Body odor.

Mickey D’s.

Halitosis.

The subtle blending of all these scents will curl delicately around your nose-hairs and induce feelings you’ve never dreamed of (because if you did, you would wake up in a puddle of vomit).

3)      The opportunity to experience unsolicited live entertainment.

One time, a man stood near the entrance to the bus and periodically burst out into loud renditions of this song – but only the chorus.  I was doubly impressed that A) He actually remembered mid-90’s tweeny R&B gem and B) That he was kind enough to serenade the rest of us with it.

He was actually kind of my hero.

Nobody said a word about it.

One day, even though there were two completely vacant benches on either side of me at the bus stop, two young girls, approximately 16 – 17, with babies strapped to their chests, sat down right next to me.  The gentleman accompanying them stood beside the bench and joked around with them.  My thought process:  “Oh man, they’re really close to me.  Too close.  This is making me uncomfortable.   They’re being loud too.  I want to move to that other bench, but if I do that, they might think I’m rude.  I’d better just sit here and pretend to be a mannequin or a corpse.”  When one of the girls laughed at the gentleman for doing something (I have no idea what he did – I was trying way too hard to mentally escape with Gene Wilder into a land of pure imagination – why were they so close to me?) he accused them of disrespecting him.  Then he sang this song, loudly, through a mouth stuffed full with the cheese conies he was eating out of a styrofoam box:

He wasn’t worried about nothing, and he let me know, over and over, for about ten minutes until the bus arrived.

4)      The opportunity to be touched by people.

People will touch you, probably (hopefully) not on purpose, but they will touch you.

Like this:

So, I suppose what I’m saying is – unless you have to, don’t ride the bus.

Well, unless, of course, you can hook up with Ms. Frizzle and take an educational LSD trip on the Magic School Bus.

In an octopus's garden in the shade.  Totally lucid.

Totally lucid.

Because this, unfortunately, is accurate:

I need to invest in an invisibility cloak.

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5 responses »

  1. Oh my. I live in the burbs, ride the bus. If you lived here, you’d be grateful not to drive. Riding the city bus, well, I think you’ve describe why I’m grateful I don’t endure that on my daily commute. I ride with suits and drones to wonderful gray cubbys. I wish phones like radios were banned on buses. Okay, insomnia. Nothing witty simply rambling.

    • Ah, gray cubbies. What would younger me think if she knew I would one day long for that gray banality to surround me? Seriously though, that sounds divine. A quiet commute would be heaven.

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