Salty Stories

Aloha, Bus Driver From My Nightmares!

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.

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Salty Stories

The DMV Did Me Dirty

Here’s the deal, I’ve got a real hot streak of GLAMOUR shots on my driver’s license and I’m not ready or willing to give that self-imposed title up just yet. (My passport photos are another story, anyone except Taylor Swift who knows how to closed mouth smile and NOT look like a serial killer, get @ me with some tips.) These are supposed to be my peak years and I’m RAPIDLY approaching the swift drop on that rollercoaster, so I really need to capture it when I can. On my driver’s license is really the best way to do so. It’s a government issued document and one that I’ll have to show to a stranger every single time I enter a bar or order an adult bevvy. That’s a lot of eyes on one pic, and I say that knowing that I’ve never gotten more than 15 likes on anything I’ve ever posted on social media. ID PHOTOS ARE ALL I HAVE ANYMORE. I never thought this day would come. 

On my 16th birthday, I took my driver’s test—told no one I was taking it so I didn’t have to tell them if I failed (old hockey trick)—and looked like a youthful babe soda in my very first license photo. I had a pre-summer tan, styled hair and an adorable teal dress. All of which could be seen as it was proportionately distanced and sized. In fact, anytime a friend, foe or stranger brought up their dreadful license photo, I paraded that shit around for all to see. Oh you look like you just drowned your kids in a bathtub in your photo? I look like a beauty queen, READ IT AND WEEP BITCHES!

It might be suggested that I annoyed everyone with how much I worked my ID into a conversation. I almost didn’t want to get a fake ID in college for fear of having a fake hideous photo. Fortunately, my sister provided my “fake” and she also takes a great pic. When I turned 21, I did everything in my power to keep my original photo. Unfortunately I was met with much frustration and eye rolls at the dear ole DMV. I took a shitty temp pic until I could get myself home to where my mom had recently become employed at the DMV and promised a full photoshoot to get the right headshot. I cannot stress this enough, I recommend everyone has a relative working at the DMV. Not only did I not have to wait in line and suffer years of my life in that soul-sucking place but I literally got to treat my license photo like a JCPenney portrait shoot minus the kickass 90’s backdrops. Plus my mom knows all of my best angles and I got as many reshoots as I demanded. Another stellar ID was created. Note the carefully curated white lace tank to once again, pop that bronze glow. (PRO tip.)

And now here we are in my 29th year, license expired. Thanks to COVID, I was able to push that renewal back for a solid 5 months before I could go into the DMV again safely. And you better BELIEVE I planned on preparing for this appointment with a full blowout and face of makeup after months of being a loungewear shut-in. Unfortunately for all involved, when the day arrived, I had a friend in town and poorly planned our morning. Eager to fit a scenic 14 mile bike ride in and soak up the sun before my appointment, I let the morning get away from me and all of a sudden I had 15 minutes to shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, curl my hair and pick out the perfect outfit to enhance my summer tan. On the 30 minute drive back to my house (in the opposite direction of the DMV) I began to panic that I would become * insert tone of absolute disgust here*: an UGLY ID holder. And not just like casual caught off guard for a pic ugly…unshowered, hair pulled up under a hat, just sweat my ass off in a high speed bike ride to try and make up for my poor time management, no makeup, in a tee with visible pit stains kind of UGLY. I wondered how horrible it would be to cancel my appointment. Or just commit to it and then immediately change my photo at a later date. All of these options were either incredibly inconvenient or more expensive. This is when I really had to look inward and have a stern talk with myself about what was important here. How I look in a photograph that’s the size of a stamp or keeping an appointment it took me a month to get for the renewal of my driver’s license that had been expired for almost half a year now. The answer was my looks and that is the most obvious thing on this earth. Having been born with naturally curly hair that I let air-dry, I cannot allow myself to be photographed within a few hours of my daily shower or I’ll look like ole ramen-head ass Justin Timberlake that immediately turned into a meme because of HOW BAD IT LOOKED. So it’s not even like I could trim time off of my prep by leaving my locks au naturel. 

I arrived home and I’ve never gotten ready faster in my entire life. And you know what? I looked like a 10. From the front. I never dried my hair in the back. Too time consuming and the back of my head will never be featured on an ID. I selected a teal dress to accentuate the new race I had become from 4 straight months of baking in the sun and even tossed on my custom-made Salty Ju jean jacket on top of that for clout. All of my fans and supporters (my sister and my friend) applauded my Herculean effort to transform myself into a top model in 15 minutes flat. I expected paparazzi to be hiding in the bushes when I exited my house, shoveling peanut butter crackers in my cracker hole because I skipped lunch in favor of my looks. I got to the DMV with two minutes to spare and ready to do the cover of Vogue, should Rosie at counter 8 impromptu ask me to. We got the long-awaited photo out of the way first and when I tell you it was horrific, that is an understatement. It turns out, no matter how GREAT I look (or dress…my outfit didn’t even graze the photo), if you close crop my head in the square, there is REALLY no positive way to spin that. Rosie snapped away and showed me the pic for review where my jaw resided on the ground. I didn’t think it was possible to look like the poster child for my 600 lb life and yet a super zoom WILL DO THAT. My chins were abundant and falling out of frame as the square went from my forehead to my first chin, also giving me a buzz cut in the process–so much for drying and curling my precious locks. That was a proportion that Rosie felt comfortable with and to be honest I would’ve asked for a reshoot, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to and it looked like the camera setup would be permanently unforgiving. I had just carefully curated a look and an outfit for a MEGAHEAD PHOTO THAT I’LL BE STUCK WITH FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS. But don’t worry, the guy at counter 10 who processed my renewal told me it’s a great photo and he doesn’t just tell everyone that. He also complimented my nail polish so obviously he was just trying to bang me. My perfect ID photo streak has come to an abrupt and aggressive end and I will forever curse this stupid day. Ten years from now, I’m bringing my own photographer.

And as if NY State wasn’t cruel enough, they double up on your mug, hologram style. So that Salty Ju Megahead can also float in space on the right side of my ID reminding me to invest in a neckline slimmer.

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