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Friday, March 27, 2015

There Should be Protocols

A repeat from 2014.  Oh, how I miss Tamra!

“There should be a protocol,” she stresses.  “There are reasonable expectations associated with the bus!”

I nod solemnly, pull out the book I keep on hand for such occurrences, and remove the cap from my pen.  “Why don’t you tell me about it?” I say.

“There’s this guy – he’s a big guy.  A really big guy.  And you know the size of those seats, right?”

I do, indeed.  Tamra rides daily on one of the city-to-suburbs buses, buses that look, for the most part, like a city bus, but are run independently.  They have Greyhound-fancy seats and, from what I understand, onboard masseuses. 

“So he sits down.  And he’s allowed that.  I’m not saying he shouldn’t sit with me.  But then he overlaps, and –“

Tamra shudders.  A slender, fashionable woman, one suspects, looking at her, that not only is her home in a visitor-ready state, but that her legs, despite it being January, have been recently shaved.

I like her anyway.

“—and you know how I feel about germs, right?  So there he is, he’s got his leg pressed – and I’m as close to the window as I can get! – against mine, I can feel his belly –“

Tamra is overcome.  I give her a moment.

“And then he pulls a newspaper out of his briefcase!  He pulls the newspaper out, snaps it open – and now I’ve got his arm clearly in my bubble –“

His arm is clearly in her bubble, I write, chuckling.

“ – and then – and then!”

I look up from my notes, reach for my coffee.  “And then?”

She closes her eyes, turns away, as if to push the memory away.  “He sneezes,” she says.  “Into the newspaper.”

I chuckle, despite myself.  I’ve watched Tamra disinfect a hallway after someone with a sniffle walks by.  Raised by a registered nurse, on a first-name basis with a number of exceedingly startling maladies, Tamra does not suffer a germ gladly.

“That’s not the worst of it,” she says, turning back, eyes haunted.  “After he sneezed into the newspaper, he – he –“

My eyes go round.  No.  My mother’s voice rises, somewhere in the back of my head; and suddenly, I know what Tamra will say next.

“No,” I say.


I stare at her.

She looks away again.  “He picked his nose.  And then – “ 

I make a choking sound, but the worst is yet to come.

She looks up, troubled.  “He flicked it,” she says, wincing.  “He flicked it in the aisle.”

There is a moment’s silence as we consider this.

She turns back to her monitor, types quickly, a brief, staccato burst of sound.

“I see him all the time,” she says.  “But I keep my purse on the seat next to me.  I pretend to be digging in it until he passes.”

She turns back to look at me.  “It’s not right,” she says.  “me leaving my purse on the seat like that.  But really, there ought to be protocols.”  


vanilla said...

I've seen better advertisements for taking the bus; but this is funnier.

joeh said...

Similar passengers on the train when I was a daily commuter. I used to ride it out in politeness, but at some point I would just say "Excuse me," get up and stand.

If I knew I would some day blog I would have taken notes. So much material.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Gagging this side... I mean, for crying out loud he flicked the thing??? Gagging I tellz ya... YAM xx

jenny_o said...

Too bad her gag reflex hadn't kicked up a couple of notches - she could have barfed in HIS bubble and see how he liked that!

Weekend-Windup said...

Nice to read :)

Elephant's Child said...

Definitely (as I am so often) with jenny_o here. And those who wipe their nose on their sleeve (while sniffing juicily) get my gag reflex working in overdrive. Not (yet) to the ultimate destination.

River said...

She's right, there ought to be protocols; perhaps a completely separate, labelled, bus for those who nose-pick, cough and spit, and sneeze.

Shelly said...

I think a fine book would be Life's Little Protocols, and could cover everything from public transportation to restrooms in foreign places. A true public service~

Gigi said...

I think Shelly just found the inspiration for your next book!

Linda O'Connell said...

I am a prek teacher who can deal with any ooze from any orifice EXCEPT the nose. I'd have thrown up on him.

Rose L said...

She should have made the sounds of getting ready to heave and he probably would have run!!!

Indigo Roth said...

To be clear, I did *not* flick my boogers into the aisle.

Sarah said...

The joys of public transport. Brilliant!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

This was bloody funny

the walking man said...

EGADS! you've done it Pearl. My fortune is made i am going to create adjustable personal bubbles for public transportation. There could be an intercom that either party could turn on or off at will. Front doors that are closed to allow the side slip out to the aisle.

Just think of the benefits and other accessories! The booger picker would have no floor to flick on and a camera could watch him and turn on a sign "Has booger on finger" OH man digital technology and clear plastic could revive public transportation for the masses. you could even charge extra for tinted personal space boxes. Think of all the paper you could fill trying to figure out what was happening in a deep tinted personal space box. "If the box is a rockin..."