An Eventful Bus Ride
April 12th, 2007
The sun had barely begun to rise on this cold winter day when bus driver Ernie Miller reported to work at the Frankford Transportation Center, a decaying urban bus terminal.
"Oh boy, another day in paradise," he sarcastically thought to himself as he approached the bus he would be in control of during his shift. The dreary atmosphere was the exact type that made tropical vacations so popular.
Before hitting the road, his first job was to remove any trash from his bus, stock up on transfers, and double-check to make sure everything was functioning properly.
“So, I wonder what my bus will smell like today?” he cynically pondered aloud.
As he stepped inside, the offending odor dujour immediately assaulted his nostrils.
“And the winner is…urine!”
The annoyances did not end there, as the buses provided for this route were sub-standard all around. Ernie was painfully reminded of this every time he started the ignition and had to listen to the irritating rumbling sounds and vibrations of the nearly decade-old engine.
Usually, there was nothing meaningful about his day, but today was special. It was the last day of his fifteen week probation period. Every few hours he still recalled the incident which had landed him in trouble.
He had been struggling to finish his shift in the afternoon, feeling quite ill. Out of nowhere, a toddler began to cry on his mother’s lap. The screech bombarded his eardrums as he tried to patiently wait for it to stop. After five agonizing minutes, he lost it. He stopped the bus, got out of his seat and stared into the woman’s eyes.
“Can’t you shut that kid of yours the fuck up?” he screamed at her, “Show some fucking consideration for other people you ignorant bitch!”
To his credit, both the toddler and mother immediately went silent. None of the other passengers protested, perhaps in fear, or in a testament to how thankful they were for the silence. However, when he arrived at the terminal, the woman reported him to his superiors, successfully creating the image that only she was the victim. If it were not for Ernie’s twenty-two years of tenure, he likely would have been fired.
As a punishment, he was put on probation and removed from the easy suburban route that his experience had earned him. He was reassigned to an urban route in one of the most rundown sections of the city, which was normally reserved for newcomers. Instead of constantly moving along at 45 mph, he constantly had to brake for stop signs. The pleasant suburban folk had been replaced with ghetto degenerates and assorted weirdos.
The new route had been absolute hell. Everyday, he experienced escapist thoughts such as quitting, suicide, and hijacking the bus at random. He would then debate with himself over why he never actually did any of these things. It could have been due to his ultimate love for his life and freedom. Perhaps it was because he lacked the skills to ever find another $40,000/year union job. In the end, he usually decided that good old-fashioned laziness was the biggest factor. Why else would he hold a job that involved sitting on his ass all day while driving around? If he could just get through this final day, he could put this unpleasantness behind him forever.
Due to the public highschool near the end of his route, Ernie’s shift never started well. It meant that his first run of the day would involve heavy transportation of chatty and unruly adolescents without any real adult supervision. Their convenience would be Ernie's torment. In a way, these children were a reflection of the rundown neighborhoods that he drove though. No matter how hard he tried, he could never prevent himself from overhearing their infinitely stupid conversations about grades, fashion, and what certain kids thought about other kids. They may as well have been yelling, "I live in a small, dull, and shallow universe".
The level of intelligence and common sense that these kids displayed made Ernie seriously wonder how any of them would ever be able to earn a decent living. Ernie found it especially disheartening that the teens' use of profanity was terribly misguided. Although Ernie strongly believed expletives were great, he often wondered why these kids never realized that when you say ‘Fuck’ and ‘Shit’ in every sentence, the words lose their effect, whether it be for anger or comedy.
After about forty minutes of this torture, he reached the end of his route and all the students exited the bus. This was the time when Ernie got to gloat over the fact that those students would all be trapped in a stuffy building for the next seven hours or so, while he at least was able to move around at his job.
"Have fun in school shitheads," he joked to himself.
Sadly, the good feeling this generated did not last. Five minutes into his drive back to the bus terminal, an elderly woman stepped onto the bus with a major chip on her shoulder that only an argument with Ernie could nurture.
"This bus was supposed to be here two minutes ago! What's the problem?" the old lady yelled.
"Oh, Jesus Christ lady," Ernie thought to himself before telling her, "Look, with traffic and everything, I don't have complete control over..."
The old lady cut him off and hollered at him some more.
Ernie assessed the woman in his mind, "You get off on this sort of thing, don't you bitch? I'll bet you formed most of this complaint in your mind before you even went outside today. You're truly a disgusting old hag."
"Now I'm running behind BECAUSE OF YOU!" the old lady continued even though Ernie was not ignoring her so that he didn't lose his temper.
Worse still, Ernie was not lucky enough for this horrible woman to get off after only a few stops. She stayed on for the entire duration of the route and kept up her inane, repetitious argument the whole time. She even made one final quip after exiting the bus that Ernie painfully ignored.
Thinking to himself, "Whatever you crusty old bitch. Have a nice day and burn in hell," was his best coping mechanism.
The next couple of hours went by fairly smoothly, but this did not put Ernie at ease by a longshot. Only rarely did his job become so void of frustration that his only logical response was to wonder what horrible situations were inevitably approaching in the near future. Surely, this was the calm before a terrible storm.
After Ernie's fifth round trip, his lunch break mercifully arrived. For him, this was not just a time to eat and re-energize the body, but to recover mentally as well. With a nutritious meal of a cheese sandwich, Cheetos, and two chocolate cupcakes, in addition to some peace and quiet, he usually recovered just enough to enable him to barely get through the rest of his shift.
As he was finishing his drink, his throat suddenly began to feel funny. Swallowing became an awkward process.
“No, it can’t be,” he thought.
It felt like the onset of a typical cold symptom. He was able to put it out of his mind until right as he was getting back on his bus…
He suddenly sneezed twice and had an urgent need to blow his nose. Now he was almost certain he was coming down with a cold.
“Of course this had to happen to me today. Somebody up there must really fucking hate me.”
The second half of Ernie's day promptly began with a quick earache. Just as his bus was scheduled to leave the terminal, he caught sight of a familiar passenger who often rode this route at this time of the day.
The reason Ernie remembered him so well was because this particular passenger was one of those extreme religious types who made it his personal mission to make sure everyone they talked to knew everything about the Lord Jesus, sometimes right down to his sandal size. He always managed to find a way to draw Ernie into philosophical and ideological discussions. Whenever Ernie would disagree with him, which was often, the man would become extremely angry and lash out at him, failing to realize that Jesus may have been a great guy, but hearing about him gets old real quick.
Luckily, on this day, the man had arrived just a bit too late. Normally, Ernie would wait an extra minute for late stragglers, but this policy did not extend to religious diehards. Therefore, he took some satisfaction in driving away just as the man approached the bus. However, the man would not be shunned so easily. He came charging after the bus screaming for the driver to stop, even pounding his fist against the side a few times. When he realized that his efforts were not going to be successful, he cursed at Ernie with such a fury that would probably upset even the most tolerant and loving god.
"May the Lord be with you...as you wait for another bus in the pouring rain!" Ernie joked to himself.
Later on, a certain inevitability happened and what may be referred to as an 'Elitist Driver' was now directly behind the bus. These drivers vehemently believed that everyone should drive exactly according to the rules and regulations of the law. They did not like buses because, technically, they were supposed to pull over when picking up passengers, but rarely ever did. Ernie was certainly no exception to this type of bus driver. From his point of view, they never pulled over because it was far too inconvenient, since most other motorists would never let the bus merge back onto the road. From the elitist driver's point of view, they did it because they are cock-sucking, motherfucking, gitbag, jerkoffs. As a result, Ernie was frequently attacked by the elitist driver's two trusty weapons, the mouth and the horn.
"Hey, why don't you pull over you fuckin' gitbag," screamed the other motorist.
Ernie always tried to ignore these kind of people at first. They usually quit yelling and accepted their inconvenience after a few seconds anyway. But as it turned out, this particular motorist had a real nasty bug up his ass today.
HONK! HONK! HONK!
"You ain't ignoring me, because I know you can hear me! How in the fuck did this great state of ours ever issue a license to a stupid, inconsiderate jerkoff like yourself?"
Ernie had now lost his patience. He responded by unleashing his twenty-two years of experience at giving the middle finger to other drivers. Indeed, he was quite the professional at it, waving the offending phalange from side to side, making it dance, and even doing figure-8's in the air. Like a conductor with his baton or a fisherman with his rod, Ernie flipped the bird with unquestioned expertise.
"Yeah, fuck you too asshole," was all the other driver could say in return with a discouraged tone.
Ernie's continued waving his middle-finger for another two minutes until the other driver turned onto another street. Ernie could now take satisfaction in knowing that the rest of that man’s day would be filled with anger and rage as the confrontation replayed itself over and over in his mind. Perhaps he would then finally learn that roadrage is never worth it. Then again, given the usual prevalence of human stupidity, he probably would not. Either way, Ernie had won.
Determined to finish his probation with dignity, Ernie had put up a valiant effort in fighting his oncoming illness. However, with just another forty minutes to go until his freedom, he was in trouble. The gradually worsening symptoms were beginning to have an affect on him. In addition to his continuous coughing, mucous was now preventing him from breathing through his nose and he was also feeling feverish and fatigued.
On top of it all, his final trip to the terminal would not be simple. It was now past three in the afternoon and all of those students who had taken his route to school earlier were now going to ride it on their way home. Since the students were done school for the day, they would be cheerier and therefore, project and express their stupidity and obnoxiousness twice as much as they had in the morning.
The adolescents piled into the bus, filling it to capacity. Within seconds, loud, inane chatter, and profanity were flying everywhere. Ernie could barely hear the traffic around him.
"Oh, my fucking head," he groaned.
After about twenty straight minutes of this, Ernie was on edge. He politely asked everyone to quiet down a bit, and everyone obeyed…for three seconds.
Things went from bad to worse as one clique of smart-asses decided to play one of the oldest jokes in the book - pulling the exit cord for no reason.
Ernie faithfully brought the bus to a stop at the next corner and opened the doors to allow someone to exit. Agonizing seconds passed as no one got off. Realizing that he had been tricked, he announced sternly, "Don't pull the cord if you're not going to get off the bus." Meanwhile, a line of cars behind him were honking their horns after an entire ten seconds of not moving.
"Calm down assholes," Ernie said to himself, "It's not like you would have made better use of the ten seconds of your life that I just wasted."
Halfway down the next block, there was another ‘DING’, and so he stopped at the corner. Once again, no one exited.
"Whoever is doing that, knock it off!" he shouted at the passengers.
This elicited a surge of obnoxious and idiotic laughter from the adolescent group that can best be described as that of Elmer Fudd with dementia.
"Oh Lord," Ernie prayed, "Please give me the patience to not leap from my seat and tear those people the new asshole they so desperately need."
Upon approaching the next corner, the cord was pulled again. However, Ernie was so enraged that he skipped the stop and kept on driving.
"Yo buddy, can I get off or what?" someone yelled.
A tall man with a thick build was now standing at the front of the bus giving Ernie an angry stare-down. He was clearly a man not to be fucked with.
"I...I'm awfully sorry about that," Ernie blurted out, while a huge wave of embarrassment fell over him.
He could again hear the students laughing at him.
"What the fuck, how did I let them little faggots do that to me?" he painfully thought to himself.
"Now I have to walk an extra block," the angry passenger stated. "Next time, pay a little more attention instead of daydreaming about pussy you'll never get."
Naturally, the students taunted Ernie over this comment.
His spirit was absolutely crushed, but he had to fight on, for the end was so near. This was it, the home stretch, roughly twenty minutes left of driving before his freedom. Every single ounce of strength left in his body was harvested to resist his illness as well as the onslaught of adolescent bullshit he was dealing with.
"Damn, that dude killed the shit out of you!" one boy shouted, causing the others around him to explode with laughter.
"If only I could kill the shit out of you," he thought.
He wiped some of the dripping snot off of his face with his sleeve, not caring about cleanliness at this point, before taking a deep gulp and feeling the throbbing pain in the back of his throat.
"Shame on you, thinking about pussy on the job!" another boy shouted.
"It's still better than how you think about all the dicks you'd like to suck!" Ernie responded in his mind.
His eyes had trouble focusing on the road as he sneezed a dozen times in the span of a minute.
"Damn yo, god bless you," teased one of the boys.
Ernie could not think of a response to that comment as he desperately fought against the rage building in his body. The adolescents were showing no mercy today, but there were only a few more minutes to go. The insults continued to flow sporadically.
"Yo, what would you have done if that dude had offered you out?"
You despicable little creatures
"That pussy bus driver definitely would have bitched out!"
I'm almost home you fuckers!
"That dude would have FUCKED YOU UP!"
"It's going to be over. It's finally going to be over," Ernie reassured himself before blacking out.
When Ernie came to, he saw that he had arrived back at the Frankford Transportation Center. Problem was, his bus was crashed into one of its walls.
No one was hurt, but it didn't matter. He was now as good as fired. His dreams of coasting along with an easy route, while hardly ever doing a thing all day were destroyed. Suicide seemed quite reasonable at this point.
"Sigh, why didn't I ever hijack this bus when I had the chance?"
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