Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Think I'm Going to...Cleveland?

Yes, it's the (seriously belated) post about the trip home. Life tends to get like that for me. Things fog over. Especially when I discovered I have moved to the land of the cottonwoods trees. Huge amounts of white fluff in the air.

This wouldn't normally bother me, but I've realized, mostly due to being so stopped up on one side of my head that I can't hear well, that I'm allergic to cottonwoods.

Allergies, like job hunting, rather suck. Both can create hazy fogs. And while I'm trying just to ignore the allergies, I can at least poke fun at adventures while job hunting. (Especially today; won't say why, just trust me on that one, okay? Thanks, dears.)

So a few posts ago, you left me packing for my trip out east. The trip there was uneventful, thank goodness. The trip back was something else.

After leaving Boston (where, yeah, the song Boston by Augustana got stuck in my head) we were behind schedule all the way through New York and beyond. The bus drivers, bless them, drove like bats out of hell and we made our connection in Cleveland with a bare twenty minutes to spare.

"Well," said the young geologist (bound for Boulder, Colorado) whom I queued up behind in an already longish line, "at least we won't have much of a layover!"

I mentioned he was young, right? Well, add naive to that as well. We'll overlook the fact that I agreed with full conviction, shall we? After all, at 3:20 a.m. one must have hope, mustn't one?

After waiting an hour and a half, our bus arrived. They hustled everyone off for cleaning and refueling, which meant that there was a line of reboarders (such a practical name) who got to get back on the bus first.

About a half of a bus worth of reboarders to be exact. The geologist and I glanced ahead of us. Roughly a half a bus worth of new boarders stood in front of us. We glanced at each other. We are both people with advanced degrees in our professions, the glance said. We could handle the math. 1/2 reboarders + 1/2 new boarders =...

"Oh dear," said the expression on the young geologist's face (he looked too polite to swear).

"Oh bloody hell and somebody slap the Gods of Bus Scheduling because no Goddess would be this damn incompetent," mine said in return. He inched away from me and continued conversation from a safe distance.

Finally, the reboarders reboarded. The new boarders' line inched forward. Knowing that we had both already missed our connecting buses, we speculated. Would it be worse to be crammed like a sardine in a bus clear to Chicago, or to be stuck in a bus station and have the chance at a less full bus next go round?

He found out what sardine land was like.

I found out about the wait. This, of course, means I never got to ask him which was better.

Stanley and Stanley tried to console me with the fact that as we were now definitely, without a doubt, first in line due to them cutting off passengers right when they got to me, there was no way we wouldn't make the next bus. I scowled. In desperation, they pointed out that Cleveland is the only major metro area through which I actually enjoy driving in rush hour traffic.

(This is due to the insanely polite Cleveland drivers. Just for fun, I do things like signal when I'm about to lane change. The kids and I, while trekking across the country, have made a game, you see, of trying to figure out which city's drivers will cut us off the fastest when we warn said drivers of our intentions. (Extra aside: Boston has a lot of NASCAR wannabes. Just sayin'.) In Cleveland, if you signal, they let you in. And it wasn't one freakishly aberrant driver who did so. It was all of them. I know. I changed lanes a lot in order to get verifiable evidence.)

I pointed out to the Stanleys that the floor of the Cleveland bus station was something less than immaculate. (If I were in Boston or Chicago, or even some of other stops, I'd have taken the floor. Cleveland? Er, no. In its defense, I must say that 3 something in the morning is hardly the best time for people, let alone floors.)

I further pointed out that they were currently hogging the best seat on top of my practical, tiny luggage and that I had made the catastrophic mistake of changing in a toilet cubicle just moments earlier and that just proved that I was in bus station hell, do not pass limbo, do not collect your connecting bus.

The Stanleys ignored my rant and inquired into why changing was a mistake. I certainly looked fresher, they pointed out (none too diplomatically).

"Because the probability of dropping an article of clothing you rather liked into a toilet bowl due to lack of toilet seat covers means that, while said water was nonetheless clean, you will be forced to stuff the beloved article of clothing into the feminine hygiene trash receptacle by its one centimeter of dry fabric since there's no way on God's green earth you'd want to take it home with you again," I snapped.

The Stanleys promptly feigned sleep. Even flat paper men behave like the real things.

There were a few bright spots in the wait, don't get me wrong. I came up with new lyrics to the tune of Boston, which, while amusing enough (Think I'm stuck in Cleveland/I'm tired of the toilets) are essentially not for younger viewers.

There was a crocheter spotted in the wild. I was too shy to get her picture, let alone talk to her, but she was lightning quick and was creating a beautiful, delicate lacy looking piece of work. I was helping Stanley with his scarf at that time (I promised I'd hook a bit of it for him) and felt large and very not delicate with his bright yarn and jaunty colored but clear plastic hook.

There was also James, the wonderful cook at the station (not that the food was great, but dude could only work with the ingredients given him--like icky fake cheese and miniscule biscuits--and bus lines obviously don't believe in buying four star quality ingredients, you know?). James was wonderful because he fed a hungry waif of a traveler a full hour before he was supposed to be open. Seriously kind man.

The Stanleys, who immediately woke up when they smelled food (did I mention the similarities between paper and real men? Just checkin'.) thought him very kind, and, after finishing my meal for me, begged to be introduced to James so they request one of their Stanley photos.

James willingly agreed to be photographed, but Katrina the cashier fell on us like a category 5 storm and said there was a policy that no photos could be taken in the station due to the threat of terrorists. James and I stared at the Stanleys; he incredulously, I with horror, wondering what vipers I had harbored in my breast when they were purporting to be an innocent schoolchild project. The Stanleys loudly protested their innocence and begged me to not take the photo, lest their camera be confiscated and they be hauled off for questioning. It's hard to hide an escape envelope on your person when you're not a person, after all.

We were sneaky, though. We didn't tell Katrina the cashier that we had already taken these:

of the two Stanleys reveling in their first in line-ness and luckily, we escaped to Chicago before the authorities got wind of our nefarious activities.

And Chicago was where I got into a line that had, at the head of it, some of the people I'd seen ahead of me in the line in Cleveland.

I'm not the type to crow meanly over the fact that they had had to wait as well. I did begrudge them the cleaner floor, though.

But there was one incident that made the whole wait worthwhile. There was an Amish family at the station, waiting to go somewhere. The son, a boy of about 7 with blond hair peeking out from under his black-banded straw hat and mischievous eyes of a deep, bright blue which exactly matched his shirt, had fallen head over heels for a little Hispanic girl of about the same age one bench over. She had ponytails which ran the length of her back and a demure smile. He found her dazzlingly beautiful and spent his time alternating between worshipping stares, shy grins coupled with quick looks away when at last he caught her eye, and feigned cool guy indifference.

The Stanleys were confused by my giggles. They thought the boy's tactics were top notch. (I'm almost certain I've already pointed out the essential sameness of men everywhere, at every age, and in every medium, have I not? Thought so. )

She, I am pleased to say, comported herself in a manner becoming to an adored object and was in general a credit to her sex.

And I got on a bus smiling. Young love does that to me every time.


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Anonymous said...

wow, you do need a man in your life, i don't think flat stanley is going make it over the long haul, especially if rock or scissors come into the picture.

SunshineDreams said...

Third time was the charm, eh j?

Dude, sometimes you are so BLOND!

NeedleTart said...

That's what blogging does for you. Even the worst trip has the virtue of becoming blog fodder.
Glad you got on the bus.