It was this time three years ago that I was about to embark on the biggest trip of my life. Through my esteemed work as a beer festival event coordinator, I was granted the opportunity to travel to Hawaii to run Honolulu on Tap—because when you live in paradise, why wouldn’t you buy an overpriced ticket to hang out in a giant convention center and drink beer for an entire day? Never one to pass up turning a once in a lifetime work trip into a tropical beach vacay, I recruited my bestie to come with me, mostly so that I could have a snorkeling, beachin & drinkin buddy but also because returning to upstate NY shouting Mahalo and crushing the dubz hang loose hands is WAY funnier tag team style. The plane ride from New York to Honolulu was going to be 11 hours and that is without a doubt the longest I’ve ever been trapped in a plane over the ocean. So how did my body prepare? Oh, glad you asked. By getting a Biiiiiitch of a cold/flu/sinus infection exactly one day prior to my travel. My friend and I started our journey to the land of loosie goosies by taking a four hour bus ride from Albany down to NYC where we would then spend the night with another friend and wake up at the ass of dawn for our 11 hour flight. After mainlining Emergen-C and taking a midday snooze the day before did absolutely nothing to stop the freight train of sickness from ravaging my body, there was 0% of me that wanted to travel for the next few days. Little did I know that it would be a real shitstorm with or without snot profusely leaking out of my nose.
We boarded the bus and found our seats, ready for naptime as the sun had already set. I was just getting as comfortable as a 5’9” ganglerod can in a very limited legroom bus seat when we heard the crackle of the loudspeaker. As soon as our driver began his announcements, my friend and I knew we were in for the ride of our lives. It appeared as though luck had placed us on a vehicle driven by Satan himself. I’ve never experienced “announcements” on a bus past age 11 and yet here I was at 26 listening to a driver sternly tell a packed bus of grown adults that this would be a QUIET ride and we would NOT want to find out what happens if someone speaks. Uh, RED FLAG MUCH? As someone who had sneezed about 14 times just boarding the bus alone, I immediately began to shake with fear that my body would betray me and I’d get ejected at full speed on the highway for my noisemaking on the silent bus. It turns out, I didn’t need to stifle my sneezes or dab at my waterfall of snot quietly (not being able to blow your nose just makes it 100x sloppier) because I wasn’t going to be the culprit who took this ship down.
About an hour into the ride after SEVERAL shushes from our fearless leader when someone dared to crinkle a snack wrapper (it was me…snacking is life), a cellphone ringtone echoed through the prison that was our ride. A collective gasp was heard as we wondered what the punishment would be but THAT WASN’T ALL. Following the jingle, we heard a normal speaking voice carrying a godforsaken cell phone conversation. The driver was swift to hit that loudspeaker again and tell this renegade to get the hell off of her phone or get the hell off of this bus. She did not oblige. He continued to harass her via tiny bus megaphone, while the rest of us cringed out of our skin and wanted to die on the spot rather than find out what happens when in a free country you take a phone call on a bus that you paid to sit on. The crew was getting restless, people shouted from the back for this woman to just get off her phone and save us all. Amongst the vocal unrest, a hero that we didn’t ask for, but that we all needed came to this cellphone yapper’s defense and fired back that this woman was receiving news of a death. I mean, you can’t script it, folks. This seemed to settle the Lord of the Flies crowd forming in the back preparing for a forced takedown of cellphone lady. You know who did not settle for one single second?
Nazi bus driver.
We could now hear that the lady was upset and rather than easing up on the code of silence, our bus driver doubled down as someone who probably kicks puppies does. HE PULLED THE BUS OVER. This MF’er whipped that bus right off the side of the highway, slammed it in park and warned us he would not be putting it back into drive until this bus was noise-free. A riot ensued. Shouts went from back to front, the driver continued to prove he was an incredibly mentally-unstable individual and most importantly, our safety was in this man’s hands. A man who PULLED THE BUS OVER ON THE HIGHWAY LIKE WE WERE HIS CHILDREN FIGHTING IN THE BACK AND HE WANTED TO TEACH US A LESSON. Nope, no children fighting here, Sarge, just a grown woman receiving a death announcement via telephone and crying about it. I obviously sat there in silence, clutching a tissue to my face to hide the fact that I was downright terrified of not only this much stranger interaction, but also that this unhinged man was put in ANY position of power. Obviously I would be the first to be eaten on a desert island. After much convincing, and a promise from the grieving lady that she wouldn’t dare use her cellphone again and would dial her sobs down to a suppressed hiccup, Driving Hitler allowed us to continue our journey of silence. There would be no round robin singing of ‘The Wheels on the Bus go round and round’ on this ride.
We arrived in NYC without another incident and I’ve never scrambled off of a bus faster—and that’s saying a lot because my middle school bus driver’s nickname was Chomo for child molester. And that was just the first leg of our trip. I danced in and out of a fever throughout the night, taunted by nightmares of our bus driver hitting the gas off of a cliff plummeting to our death because I had audibly farted in my sleep, then boarded a plane for 11 hours of mouth breathing and a fiery sore throat. The good news is I survived. The bad news is it rained all week in Hawaii, our snorkeling excursion was cancelled due to high winds, I reversed the rental car into a cement parking beam, and exactly 3 days after I returned from the biggest trip of my life and finally kicked my sinus infection, I was laid off. You know who probably wasn’t laid off after terrorizing his passengers? That bus driver. MAHALO.