The trip started out promising, the bus half-empty, the sun was just setting, and I had a window seat. It looked like I would not have to share.
Little did I know.
Two hours later, still in the outskirts of Vancouver, we pulled in to the last stop before finally hitting the highway.
I was already wishing I had maxed out my credit card on plane tickets. My legs were cramping, and my sore shoulder was starting to ache. But I had my T3's and my music. I had hope. The bus was filling up fast, but so far I had lucked out.
A very tall man, about 60, with a cane, lurched down the aisle, looked at me, and fell into the seats, sprawling across both, crushing me against the window, making me wince in pain. "Well," he said, turning to peer at me, "looks like you're stuck with me now."
"Get off me," I said, pushing him back into his seat, "you're crushing me!"
"Oh, sorry," he said, "I'm kind of disabled here," lifting his cane and gesturing at his leg.
"I don't care, man," I said, "you're hurting me, move over," and pushed him over, albeit a bit more gently, firmly pulling the armrest between us down.
"Sorry," he said, "is that better?" Well no not really, I thought, but it's not his fault the seats are so damned small, and perhaps a bit of grace is required here.
"Just don't crush me," I said, "I have a bad shoulder." Can we discuss how to define and obtain personal space in our modern society? Oh my gods. Somebody help me.
"Ok," he said, moving over half an inch, "so, how far are you going?"
Oh great. He wants to talk and all I want to do is sleep and forget I am on this bloody bus. "Calgary," I said. Dreading the answer, I asked, "and you?"
"Golden," he said.
"Wonderful," I muttered. That's halfway. I pulled my headphones on and took another T3, turning away. Looking out the window, I was regretting ever thinking this was in any way a good idea. I was fearing I had turned into a snob - I hate snobs -, and deciding that the only way to now survive was to break this down into one-hour increments. I dialed up some Radiohead as I looked around me. The bus was almost full, maybe one or two aisle seats left. People were settling in, wearing headphones, reading books. No one looked violently insane. This is good. Well, maybe me.... Buddy beside me still wanted to talk.
"You're not really listening to that, are you?" he said.
"Uh," I mean really, how do you answer that? Should I be polite? It's going to be a long night, after all. Didn't I tell myself before I left that I would pretend I was on a third-world trip? Shouldn't I talk to the locals? Ok, fine, I'll be polite, maybe he'll have an interesting story to tell me. Maybe it will help make time pass.
Well. It turns out he had been in a car accident with his wife, suffered a serious head and knee injury, so he couldn't drive, and was off to see his grandchildren, and had worked in the same job all his life, and hated being retired, and -
Oh, dear. "Um," I said, "I have to go to sleep now, if you don't mind. Why don't you try to rest, too?"
"Say, that's a good idea," he said.
Gonna be a long night...