Thursday, 13 January 2011

Perils of Public Transit

Much to my annoyance, over the years I have had more than my fair share of what I like to call "Close Encounters With The Socially Inept". These close encounters leave me feeling totally creeped out/annoyed beyond belief, and since I started the blog I have even able to document some of these occurrences. If we go through a bloggy walk down memory lane, who could forget that shuddering encounter with the guy who sniffed my hair, or that pervy old man in the luggage department who didn't understand my withering glare and repeated 'no' meant F.O.A.D., or more recently how for two hours I had to unwillingly sit in the vicinity of the queen bee of the social aliens.

Well today I was on the bus (where all good stories take place) and it was fairly deserted. At one stop, the only person who got on was this teeny-tiny little old lady carrying a purse and a shopping bag, and she walked hunched over as she had a really crooked back. She had iron grey hair that was cut to her cheek with spiked crazy bangs that looked like she'd scissored them herself, and she was wearing a huge smile that deeply creased every wrinkle in her face.

By all accounts and purposes she appeared very sweet, and with the smile she faintly resembled Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

But then the bus doors closed.

As we pulled away from the stop, an old sharp voice rose above the din of the bus motor and oh boy, she had things to say. I glanced back to see what all the commotion was about and there was little four foot nothing Aunt Bethany standing in the aisle, holding firmly to a railing, flailing her purse around and she appeared to be yelling at a lady in the seat closest to her. Whether she was yelling at this lady or this lady just unfortunately happened to be in the way, I have no clue because my German coursebook doesn't have a chapter on geriatric rage so I don't know what Aunt Bethany was saying. All I know is when I looked back, a liver spotted hand was making slashing gestures in the air, her grey bobbed hair was shaking wildly too and fro, and the lady sitting down had her black purse clutched tightly to her chest with both hands, her eyes were wide, her mouth was twisted in alarm, and her neck was strained as she tipped her head as far back as possible to get away from hunched and irate Aunt Bethany. The poor lady basically looked like someone had just jumped out from behind a bush and yelled 'BOO' before trying to take off with her purse.

Old Aunt Bethany's tirade just kept getting louder and louder, and the poor woman in the seat just kept looking more and more alarmed, and as I took the scene in I laughed. It was so ridiculous to see this tiny hunched old lady ranting and raving that my sleep deprived brain thought it would be a good idea to snort out a laugh or two. I just kept imagining wee Aunt Bethany reaching over and trying to wrestle the lady's purse from her white knuckled grasp, and then imagined hunched Aunt B tucking the purse under her arm like a football before hopping off the bus and running down the street as fast as her four foot nothing legs would carry her, knocking anyone over who got in her way.

The more I visualized the scenario, the harder I laughed.

By the time Aunt B did get off the bus (just one stop later, with a huge smile creasing her wrinkled face) I was almost helpless because in my mind Aunt B had morphed from a crazy little old lady who stole people's purses on the bus, to a crazy little hunched old lady who appeared kindly but when she got too close she'd knock out your knees with her cane before taking off running into the night.

As I dabbed the laughter tears from eyes I reflected that ah, yes: close encounters with the socially inept are always funnier when they don't happen to you.


Habebi said...

Ahh public transit. It can always get interesting. I remember my first time using it in Paris and some of the looney toonies that I saw. I was scared then but now I remember them with fondness. Mind you nothing directly happened to me so I can say that

Japanese public transport on the other hand, I did notmanage to make it through unscathed.

T said...

haha,yeah, the best stories do happen on public tranist. I am terrible for smiling and sometimes even saying hi when I make eye contact with people (can't rid small town habits) which ends up being an open invitation for many to start a conversation...

I once got stuck on the sky train for 45 minutes talking to a creepy guy while everyone else within 10 ft of me laughed at my misfortune. Thankfully he got off before me!

Caitie said...

Habebi--I have heard the ultimate horror stories about people on Japanese transit who have had amorous businessmen far too close for comfort. Yikes!

T--Haha! I'm laughing now because if you came to Switzerland and made eye contact with a stranger, then said hi, you'd be the social alien. People here appear to stay in their little bubbles and don't engage strangers, which is why Aunt Bethany's tirade was so hilarious.

Habebi said...

That's exactly what happened to me Caitie. I was considered 'exotic' I guess and that made me a target more than oncee. Ugh. In one instance, I had to get a business man off of my leg (his crotch was making contact) using my school bag as a weapon.

He's so lucky he didn't get the beat down right then and there.