The beautiful Mugwatch and I were delighted to discover that the downtown M31 train was free of charge this wintry morning. Well, I was delighted until I realized that the bus was free because the guy driving it was batshit insane. It seemed like someone had watched one too many Honeymooners episodes and decided that he was, beyond question, Ralph Kramden.
A woman asked the best way to get to Times Square from where we were and the bus driver gave his two cents until some old busybody passenger threw his hat into the ring and offered his advice and then the entire front of the bus was arguing about the best route. The old man got off, firing some parting "I can't help myself when I'm right" apologies to the bus driver. As soon as the bus door closed, the bus driver said, in his working man sarcasm, "Oh, there's always one pain in the ass on every ride. EVERYBODY knows EVERYTHING except me." It was after this incident that I noticed a certain palpable tension in the air.
After letting a few people on near the East Side Tram, the bus began to pull away when a tardy passenger ran up to the closed bus door and pummeled it with his gloved hand. The bus driver opened the door and exclaimed, "Why don't you band a little harder, you might shatter the glass." He further explained that had the man fallen in the stairwell and injured himself, the bus driver would be "up Shit's Creek."
By now, we all knew we were dealing with a loose cannon. The bus driver was being really funny, but there was a slight tinge of Kramden-esque fury to everything he said. At one point, some poor dope had left her gloves behind and was late leaving the rear exit of the bus. Her shrill Eastern European accent kept honking "back door? back door? back door?" almost as if she were wondering where it was rather than asking for it to be open. The bus driver didn't hear her and began to pull away. Now, like a gaggle of tittering Mynah birds, a small collection of voices were popping up from the back of the bus imploring "BACK DOOR! BACK DOOR!" until one particularly douchey looking gentleman yelled "hey, there's a lady tryin' to get off back here!"
The bus driver stopped the bus and scolded, "well, why don't you wake up a little earlier next time!" The European woman said, "I'm sorry, I thought I forgot my gloves." To which the driver, now in love with no single idea in the universe, muttered "yeah, right, gloves..." and a bunch of other hushed insults that made the front of the bus chuckle with delight.
Realizing I was in the window seat, and even though my stop was an entire avenue block away, I turned to Mugwatch and said "I think I'll get up now." I just didn't want to be sent to the Moon, bang zoom.