So, in order to attend my friend Rachel's annual Fourth of July Extravaganza, Nick and I missed the first couple days of the vacation. Since we are good/cliche/poor Oregonians and don't have a car, my mom offered to pay for a couple of bus tickets to get us here. And that bus ride, my friends, was a ride I'll never forget.
In order to best convey the suffering, here is a minute by minute recount of those harrowing hours:
1:30 Approach the bus. Driver cordially exclaims, “You must be Nick and Winona!” “Why yes, we are!” we say, beaming. Wow, first name service? This is going to be a great trip!
1:31 Board the bus, which is empty except for a white supremacist sitting in first seat. He seems to be in a good mood. We sit down and I whisper to Nick if he noticed the white supremacist. Nick replies, “You don’t know that he’s a white supremacist. White Pride tattoos can mean a lot of things.”
1:35 Make a stop in
1:40 The woman begins emptying the contents of her garbage bag onto the seat between us. Curious, and trying not to vomit as the smell grows exponentially, I look over and see a vast and painfully pungent sampling of the Carl’s Jr. menu—western double cheeseburgers, nachos supreme (with extra sour cream), three large fries, and a full drink carrier.
1:42 Woman begins her feast. She does not appear to be sharing.
1:50 Baby dramatically spits his pacifier onto the bus floor. “Oohhhh no, daddy! Why’d you let him do that?” woman screeches at the man as she puts aside her greasy smorgasbord, and waddles up the aisle to retrieve the soiled binky. She picks it up, and, without hesitation, puts it in her own mouth, slurps off the dirt and hair, and sticks it back in the baby’s mouth.
1:51 Woman continues eating. Bus continues heating.
2:15 Bus driver gets on microphone and asks if it’s too hot. “YES” everyone on the bus yells. “What?” the bus driver says. “YES” we say again. “Hmm, I can’t hear you,” the bus driver says, and turns off the microphone.
3:30 Bus pulls into a mini mart in a small central
3:31 Nick and I head into the mini mart to get something cool to drink. We grab some gallon jugs of water and get in line, only to find Ms. Carl’s Jr. herself paying for Odorous Food Binge: Redux. The counter is piled high with beef sticks, chunks of cheddar cheese, teriyaki jerky, generic brand “Steak Fries in a Bag” (how does that work, exactly?), two liters of Mountain Dew Code Red, and Sprite.
3:35 Leaving the store, I ponder whether I could just settle down in this town and make a new life for myself. Did I ever like my friends in
3:36 Nick forces me onto the bus. I decide that I hate him. There are three more hours to go.
3:45 Woman reaches over me to give the man a beefstick. “Here, daddy, give baby his beefstick!” she says. As she digs into her bag of steak fries, the man eats the beefstick.
3:47 Woman looks over at “daddy” and baby. “Hey!” she screams. “Daddy! You ate his beefstick!” “No I didn’t!” says daddy. “Yes you did! It’s gone! Where did it go? YOU ATE IT!” “NO I DIDN’T!”
3:48 I am in the middle of a full-blown domestic dispute. Over a beefstick. What has my life come to? How did I get here?
3:49 It’s about to get so much worse.
3:50 I hear splashing and tapping and wheezing coming from the seat next to me. After much trepidation, I look over to see what in the hell this woman is doing now. OH MY GOD. Using her Carl’s Jr. drink carrier, she is hastily mixing up a concoction of SPRITE AND BREAST MILK. She funnels it into the baby’s bottle, and, as the bus careens down a bumpy road, passes it over our heads to daddy. We hold our breath. For a few reasons.
3:51 “GIVE THE BABY HIS SPRITE, DADDY!”
3:55 I get out my journal and start making a list of things I’d like to do before I die.
4:15 Woman gets on the phone and starts having a screaming-loud conversation about the exact amount of money she won in a car accident settlement. “EIGHT! No, eight THOUSAND! DOLLARS! Yes!”
4:45 No better time to break into those Carl’s Jr. nachos supreme that have been fermenting on the hot bus for three hours, right? Liquid sour cream drips down her chin onto the floor by my feet.
4:50 Nick gets out his journal and starts making a list of things he’d like to do before he dies.
5:30 SO close! Almost there! What else could happen? I call my brother to tell him to pick us up at 6:30.
5:31 While talking to my brother, I hear the scariest words I’ve ever heard coming from the seat next to me: “Daddy, do you think I should I let it breathe?” Before I even know what she’s talking about, I drop the phone into my lap, curl into a fetal position and whisper “no no no no.” I can hear my brother’s voice faintly, “Hello? Nona? Are you there? Hello?”
5:32 Daddy nods that she should let it breathe. I have never hated anyone more than I hate daddy in this moment.
5:33 I look over (how can I not?). Woman begins to unwrap wet gauze from her severely burned hand. She coils the stained material in the same Carl’s Jr. cup she used to mix her breast milk. She waves her shriveled digits inches from Nick’s face and declares, “I think it’s infected!”
6:30 We finally pull into the parking lot of our final destination. My family is there waiting for us. They are greeted as liberators.
Updated to add: In response to numerous commenters who posted something along the lines of "DEAR GOD PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS A JOKE," I'm sorry. It's true. All of it.