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Lord of the Bus

March 30, 2011

(A post from the archives)

 

Day 8 (of 30)

I recommend everyone ride the bus every day. It's good for the environment, and it exposes you to parts of humanity you might otherwise never encounter. I'll admit, it's not the most convenient mode of transportation, and you'd never encounter some of those people for a reason. Of course, this can also lead to hating humanity as represented by those people.

One of the main reasons I've come to love riding the bus is that it really gives me time to think. For 20 minutes in the morning, my mind can wander. Sometimes, this helps me plan out the day, make a grocery list, all those mundane things. More often, the downtime gives me that creative hummingbird-like brain that flits back and forth between projects. Wired even says that the "Idling Mind is the Mother of Invention." I'm a firm believer. I think if I were a professional writer, I'd probably still take the bus every day even if it meant going around in a circle for an hour.

I also think this type of mindscape results from some video game play, but I've already touched on that.

Sometimes in the afternoons my thinking isn't quite as productive. I like to imagine scenarios where the bus I'm on is part of some catastrophe where the other passengers are who I'll have to spend the rest of my possibly short life with. Many of the great stories are character studies of people under duress and fantastic circumstances, so I try to imagine the people I'm looking at in that situation.

It's pretty easy to imagine the guy farting next to me being thrown through the window never to be seen again. It's also tempting to imagine the loud teenagers in the back being horribly crushed. But, it's always those types that survive disasters. So, I imagine the worst of the worst alive and trapped together.

I start with the bus driver, our expected leader and savior. Usually in the afternoon, we have Mr. Nice Guy. He would be eaten alive almost immediately. Then there's the mouth-breathing Slow Hand. I'd feed him to the hostiles the first chance I got. Surly Bruce would probably sell us all out the first chance he got while glowering from safety. John Lead Foot would probably be the closest thing to a leader we could get. The other miscellaneous drivers that sometimes appear would probably become part of the panicked rabble immediately.

Of course, there are always the racial stereotypes gleefully reinforcing said generalizations on the afternoon bus. We have to have them in the story screaming out catch phrases while shit goes down.

As for me, I'd like to say I would be the first to help the wounded and the scared. My strong personality, military training, and obvious planning ahead would make me an ideal candidate to lead this disaster bus to safety. Then I look around again and see the bigger men, the soft ones that would probably panic and turn on us, and I think that there's no way I could stand up to them and take control. I'm not a leader anymore. I'm more apt to be the survivor. I hope I'd be the survivor that grudgingly takes the heroine and plucky kid with him instead of the survivor that scurries up the hill leaving everyone else behind never to be seen again. I mean, these are bus people after all. What do I owe them? I have a wife and potential. What do they have?

I guess I won't know until that day when the bus flips over and we all scramble out of the wreckage to see an orange sky, pillars of flame, and possibly a zombie horde.

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