I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have You Brought Enough for Everyone? Have You?

You know the story.

A man cannot get over how small his apartment is. In the kitchen, he can stir what’s on the stove, wash the dishes, and check the contents of the fridge all while standing in one spot. The hallway is filled with shoes and made narrower by the coats on rows of hooks. And bedrooms? What bedrooms? Bedroom, yes; and then there’s the fold-out couch.

He tries not to be bitter. It’s enough for him, his wife, their son. Still. Why does it have to be so small, and when will he be able to afford a bigger place?

And then his wife’s family loses their home; and in they move, the two adults and their child, their bicycles and bedding and dogs and Tupperware.

You thought it was small before?

They stay for a month; and when they leave, the man is overjoyed. Look at this place, he exclaims to his wife. Can you believe what a big apartment we have?

I told you that to tell you this: the buses that you thought were full? They weren’t. But they are now.

I can’t put my finger on it. Since the temporary move of the bus stops from Nicollet Mall to Hennepin Avenue (where, last Friday – and I kid you not – I witnessed a woman wet herself in broad daylight), the bus/bus stop has become a changed place.

Gone are my plans to contact the Metropolitan Transit Commission with my Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Just People on a Bus program, (free mani/pedis, puppies to hold for the duration of your commute, a walk-in humidor).

What remains is the desire to maintain one’s composure.

There appears to be no limit to the number of people you can cram onto a bus, nor a limit to what comes along with those people. Suitcases, walkers, strollers, pizzas: if it is part of the human experience, if it can in any way be moved, heard, smelled, or yelled at/into, it will be there.

The woman next to me balances a take-out container of barbecued ribs, coleslaw, a corn meal muffin and a large Diet coke on her lap and then proceeds to eat it.

With her fingers.

There are signs prohibiting eating on the bus. Is she unaware of this?

Maybe she’s not from around here.

Maybe she’s never ridden the bus before.

Maybe she's a thoughtless twit sent to test the system.

At any other time, the driver would be able to see this, but the bus is filled past his having a view of the seats.

There is no one to save me from this lip-smacking eater of barbecue, and so I do what living in the city has shown, in this instance, anyway, to be the most reasonable course of action.

I close my eyes.

And breathe deeply.

Mmm. Barbecue.

47 comments:

haphazardlife said...

You have signs on the bus prohibiting eating? Huh...

God I hate packed buses, and then summer comes (unless it doesn't this year) bringing my level of loathing to unheard of new highs.

Pearl said...

haphazardlife, prohibiting eating, drinking, and boomboxes. :-) This did not keep Mr. I Know The Scorpions from bringing a boombox on the bus last summer and playing "Blackout" at ridiculous volumes, but that's a different post.

Oilfield Trash said...

I would have asked "how much for a rib? No, just one rib."

lime said...

i guess that explains the stain on your sleeve...

Pearl said...

OT, :-)

lime, I kept an eye on my sleeve, you better believe it!

lisleman said...

Maybe our buses will become more and more like 3th world country buses. Any goats or chickens on board yet? - Here's an idea to suggest to your MTC - once a week replace the bus with a real tour bus and have someone point out the sights along the way.

ellen abbott said...

how else do you eat ribs if not with the fingers?

Simply Suthern said...

There's always room for more.

Georgina Dollface said...

I couldn't imagine eating anything with my fingers when the thing that I had most likely touched before picking up my food was a germ-laiden handrail. Also, the thought of people being that close to my open food would just gross me out too much, What if someone sneezed on it? Yuck. - G
PS. You need to do a 'riding the bus' series. These tales of yours are little gems.

Drake Sigar said...

Simply Suthern - "That's what she said."

Grant said...

Things like this remind me of how awesome my car is.

Leenie said...

Makes my mile walk to work, in a blizzard, with the snowplow throwing slush on my clean pants, seem a little less---Siberian.

Just think, you won't have to pay big bucks and go through airport security to get that Third World Experience.

Pearl said...

Lisleman, no livestock yet, but we can keep our fingers crossed!

Ellen, it wasn’t the ribs she was eating with her hands that was bumming me out, it was the coleslaw. :-)

Simply, until somebody backs their butt onto my shoulder.

Georgina, summer’s on its way and I suspect I’ll have a lot more riding-the-bus experiences to relay to you!

Drake, ha!!!

Grant, cars are pretty awesome, but I hate pumping gas. I did that right after high school (best tan of my life) but never want to do it again. Plus, my monthly bus pass is, I think, $105. Cheap transport, intermittent freaks, free smells?! What’s not to love?!

Leenie, isn’t it awesome?! I’m probably growing as a human being as we speak. :-)

Joshua said...

I'm a vegetarian, so barbecue does nothing for me. Chocolate, on the other hand...

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I once got a series of outraged texts from a friend who was watching a woman eat chicken wings on a train in Atlanta and THROWING THE BONES ON THE FLOOR.

light208 said...

What a gem of a tale. I'll confess I haven't been on a bus in a few score years - living in the middle of nowhere can do that, but some of the things you see are amazing.

Sweet Cheeks said...

This is just like when my daughter (Caprinkle) rode the bus a couple of weeks ago and got to sit next to that guy that smelled like tomato soup. Do you think maybe she smells like grilled cheese and that's why they sat together?
=]

Pearl said...

Joshua, someone eating chocolate on the bus is acceptable, I think. Someone eating ribs isn't!

shieldmaiden96, ooooh. That woulda sent me right over the edge, I think. Astounding, what passes for public behavior...

light208, I think, with some of the things on public transport, that we should reinstitute the concept of shame...

Sweet Cheeks, hmm! Interesting. Perhaps there was some sort of cosmic pull there? :-)

Doubting Thomas said...

Reminds of me of when I had to ride the Cap Metro in Austin to get to High School, when mid year the school district cancelled one of the elementary buses due to budge cutbacks. Having 30 or so screaming 8 year-olds before 7 AM redefined an already long ride. Sadly, they did not have any ribs :(

Desperate Housemommy said...

*crosses 'BBQ' off of the scheduled dinner menus for this week*

Mandy_Fish said...

When my husband and I returned from India and were driving home from the airport through our city of Detroit, we both marvelled: "Look how clean! Look how pretty! Such a beautiful city!"

True story. I try and remind myself of that when I see all the FOR LEASE signs plastered all over the office parks.

Little Ms Blogger said...

Wow. You probably could write a daily post about your mis/adventures depending upon your take of the day.

Did you have to stand near the lady that peed on herself?

Thank you for sharing this. It makes me appreciate all I have.

Eva Gallant said...

I might have wrestled her for a rib! (if they smelled that good, I mean.)

Linda O'Connell said...

How do you do it? Ride the bus and then write about the characters?

becca said...

i love to people watch on buses

Jhon Baker said...

In many cases I would be tempted to say something to the offender but for they are eating Barbecue and it stains badly, also, I may partake after the wrong words stumble forth.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

oh, gee, this reminds me of rush hour on the metro/subway system in DC - so crowded that you married 5 people in between each stop - but i must say that the cars were kept clean - of course, dc is the nations capitol - but overall, it was a pleasant experience except for rush hours - it's been many many moons since i took a public bus and i thank all the transportation gods for that now, after your story! ;)

Pearl said...

Doubting Thomas, oh, MAN! :-) Makes me wonder how loud my iPod goes…

Desperate Mommy, oh, leave the ribs, just don’t let anyone eat the coleslaw with their fingers!!

Mandy, Detroit makes me sad. :-( But it being beautiful in comparison to wherever you were in India? That’s fantastic.

Little Ms., I certainly could! And horrifyingly, I was walking BY the woman… She caught my eye because of how messed up she appeared to be. Bear in mind that this was at about 11:30 in the morning on a lovely spring day. And THAT is when I noticed the spreading stain and the stream heading toward the curb. Oooooh. THIS, kiddies, is why we don’t go barefoot in the city.

Eva, they actually looked and smelled wonderful. Would you believe she didn’t offer me one?!

Linda, I carry a book and take notes. :-)

Becca, people are fascinating!

Jhon, exactly. The staining qualities – and the fact that she looked like, yep, quite the bruiser – convinced me to keep my mouth shut.

Gypsywoman, I know it sounds weird, but I still enjoy the bus. For the most part, people are just people and will get away with what they can. It’s when someone is disrespectful that it becomes unpleasant. I still have a story about a man exposing himself on the bus that I have not written. That was four years ago now, and I think I’m almost ready to write it…

The Jules said...

Could've been worse. Be thankful it wasn't lobster.

Pearl said...

Jules, I wish I'd said that.

Happy Frog and I said...

I love your bus journey tales. There is always something new to learn. I do think it is very unhygienic to eat BBQ ribs with your fingers on the bus, don't even get me started on the anti-social part. But even as a veggie I can understand why it made you hungry!

my name is Ian said...

i love your observations and people watching.

Pearl said...

Happy Frog, sometimes you just gotta relax and go with it...

Ian, thank you. Given your attention to detail, high praise.

Pat said...

Hell is the London Underground (the Tube) in the rush hour.
Once was enough.

Gigi said...

As a non-bus rider I can easily explain to you why your bus is suddenly so crowded - apparently the price of gas has EXPLODED! If I had access to a bus you can bet I'd be parking the car and become a bus-riding, people-watching person too. But alas, I do not live in a metro-area.

And? Just be glad you only got the coleslaw eating person....you could have ended up with the wet one next to you.

Pearl said...

Pat, I can't even imagine that.

Gigi, that could be! And the gal with the wet drawers -- well, I doubt she had two nickels to rub together. I've been riding the bus for 8 years now and have yet to ride next to someone who has wet their pants! What a post that would be!! :-)

On My Soapbox said...

At least you could smell barbecue on the bus. I remember smelling things that weren't quite that nice....

HermanTurnip said...

Each post is better than the last. Such delicate, beautiful detail. I could have sworn that I was there along side you, and suddenly I had an intense craving for a McRib. Weird....

Lazarus said...

Still being invited to board the bus in that new location? Makes for good posts for us however, so thanks for the sacrifice!

Jonas said...

I dunno. Maybe it's just me, but I can pretty much forgive anyone everything if the aroma is right.

Anyes said...

All the beauties of the human condition, within a crammed space ;-)

River said...

Just be glad the cannibal didn't start on your ribs next....

I've been known to step on a bus, look at the crowd and step right off again to wait for an emptier one. Or to walk home instead.

Susan in the Boonies said...

You are a saint.
The things you endure.

Say:

have you endured the barbecued butt on my blog, the past couple of times?
You know, no one is WETTING herself out here in the Boonies, but your salivary glands may wet the inside of your mouth.

Love you, Pearl.
(P.S. I almost called you Pear. [final l of omission] It could have been worse. I could have called you Pair. Or would that have been better? ;-D )

Jeanne said...

As the price of gasoline climbs steadily toward $4/gallon (it got to $3.99 in OH last week), I'm contemplating taking the bus to work so Old Dog can drive my car instead of his gas-guzzling pickup.

I can't decide whether to think, "Pearl does it," or "Look what happens when Pearl does it."

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Yeah, it's awful what people think to do on public transportation. Reminds me of the time two people picked at each other's blackheads and dug into one another's pores while in the gate at the airport--Oh my.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! I'm seriously pissed off. I'm catching up on blogs tonight, I'm ravenous, and everyone is talking about food. I want everything! Except the coleslaw; evil stuff. Not in my lunchbox, THANK YOU. Indigo

Deborah said...

What a difference a block makes yes?

I am going to remind myself of the bus pitfalls while stuck in traffic every evening.

At least I can hold my water!

Well, for now anyway.