Bus Trip, Halitosis, and NYPD Hyjinx

Posted: May 27, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

Before we get started…

I can just hear my best friend and editrix extraordinaire; Ms Gow telling me “That title has got to go” after I read this piece to her.  I will probably have to use my literary line item veto unless she can come up with a more clever name for this essay.  The Gow makes me read every piece aloud prior to her reading and putting the editorial scalpel to my brain child.  This is both a good and bad practice.  It’s good, in that by reading my work aloud I can catch my own grammatical and spelling mistakes.  Plus I am able to mimic little voices and accents for her, slip in comedic timing and emphasis…both of which I do a fair job at.  Of course, this is the double edged sword, as potential readers don’t have the benefit of my various voices or timing. Regardless, The Gow is my best friend and I love to make her laugh.
Today was my last day off prior to a new work-week and I had some errands to run.  Being a world class procrastinator, I generally end up shifting my to-do list to my last day of freedom.  This is one of the  many reasons my home is in a state, my bills are often late and I’m generally pretty stressed out.  What can I say?  A nap almost always sounds infinitely more inviting than getting a money order and stamp for my credit card bill.  Yet every month as I put that payment into a postal receptacle and pray that it arrives on or before the due date, I promise myself that next month I will mail it earlier.
So, as I said, I had some errands to do today.   I boarded the M60 bus to make a payment and fill a prescription, and as always Murphy’s Law of Public Transportation was in full effect.  Actually, Murphy has a few laws where public transportation is concerned.  The two most common are:
1. If a person is late, ill or needs to use the bathroom the subway or bus will take longer to arrive, and there will doubtlessly be some dramedy in traveling from Points A to B
2. If the weather is especially uncomfortable…poring rain, freezing cold, oppressive heat and humidity…the bus or train will take approximately twice as long to arrive
Since I wasn’t late, didn’t need to pee and it wasn’t particularly cold out, the bus came rather quickly.  I boarded and grabbed a seat facing forward.  (The NYC buses and trains have their seats facing in all directions to ensure that everyone gets an unpleasant view or motion sickness.)  Twenty seconds after taking my seat a horrifying scent reached my nostrils.  My brain did a Google search of particularly unpleasant odors and came up with “bad breath”.  I don’t know why, but I seem to be exceptionally sensitive to objectionable bodily scents.  B.O., Ass-Gas and Bad Breath effect me like kryptonite. 
I quickly pegged the fellow sitting in front of me as the culprit.  What was interesting was that this passenger was also facing forward in his seat and mumbling in to his cell phone (or talking to himself…it has become more difficult to differentiate in this age of mobile phones)  What this meant was his breath was SO repugnant and powerful, that it was leaving his mouth, making a hairpin turn and hitting my nose like a prize fighters Sunday punch.   I turned my head to avoid the onslaught, but it was no good.   This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill yucky breath…this guy needed surgery and a Haz-Mat team. My breakfast was looking to make a break for it. I was amazed that his phone hadn’t melted or imploded. I pulled my scarf over my mouth and nose and looked around for another seat.  Finally after a couple stops someone vacated a seat 10 feet away from The Halitosis Kid.  I pounced, shoving an old woman with a cane out of the way.  Sorry Granny, survival of the fittest.  I took the seat and then the whole thing became amusing. 

I never realized before today that watching others react to objectionable smells is really entertaining.  A middle aged fellow took my former seat first and opened up a newspaper.  I watched as he first caught a whiff, he made an expression like Robert De Niro before he laughs and then looked around for an escape.  I swear he started to read the emergency exit instructions of how to pull the handle below the window, push the pane out and crawl out of the bus.  I couldn’t say I blamed him.  This guy opted to refold his newspaper and move 20 feet into the back of the bus and stand.  I caught his eye on the way back, and in the camaraderie of the NYC commuter, I said softly  “Nasty breath huh?”  He grimaced and mumbled “Je-sus Christ” in agreement. The next victim was a big and brassy inner city black lady. She sat down and sure enough within 20 seconds uttered “God-DAMN” and started waving her hand in front of her mouth. 

Just before my stop I passed the local police station; the 114th Precinct.  Across from the station is a bridge and there was an accident scene.  I don’t know how, but this guy’s car had leapt the curb and smashed head first into the side of the bridge.  From the angle or the accident and the road that it happened on, this guy must have been the world’s worst driver or he’d decided that it was prudent to imbibe 5 or 6 martinis before embarking on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.  Right in front of the police station….  That is something my New England father would call a “Pisser”.  I’m willing to bet that given the proximity to the cop shop that the NYPD cut their response time in half and probably attended to this accident in under 40 minutes.  As the bus slowed to pass by the accident I noticed that some cop had put a boot on another cops Honda Accord parked right in front of the station for a goof.  I actually smiled and envied the cops.  The potential for practical jokes as a law enforcement officer must be great.
I arrived at my destination and took care of business.  The traffic light in front of my pharmacy was broken and was blinking yellow.  I should note here that drivers in my neighborhood are generally confused as to the meaning of the different color traffic lights.  Green seems to mean slow down, Red is generally optional if you catch it in it’s first 45 seconds and yellow signifies confusion.   A police car approached the lights driving very rapidly.  It’s lights and siren were having a Grand Mal seizure.  The other commuters made way for the Blue Meanies.  The police car sped by me at what I guessed was around 80 MPH and came to an abrupt halt at a bank two blocks down the street.  Hmmm  a bank robbery?  This might be entertaining.  This was not the case however.  One of the officers got out of the car slowly, went in an used the ATM.  I grinned.
Maybe I should have applied to be a police officer like I had planned when I was 7.


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