I usually claim the last seat on the bus, either the right-most or the left-most corner seats. I like those seats because I can sit cozily with my feet up against the seat in front of me. I listen to my generic iPod and watch condescendingly as the little Toyota Camrys yield for this big, loud bus to barrel down Mass Ave. I don't mind the bus anymore, not as much as I did in high school when it was punishment. Adding insult to the injury of still having to ride the public bus which took an hour to get home when it only took 15 minutes if you had a boyfriend who would ride you home with his sweat-stained hat flipped backwards and a hot mix tape in the deck. Tonight I am sitting with my iPod on volume 26 - two notches louder than I ever allow myself to listen. It is so loud, Stevie Wonder sounds as if he is not singing but actually wailing madly, as though I might not wake up to escape the flames. The loudest man in America is sitting next to me with his two friends who are probably slightly embarassed to be with him, but also probably buzzed enough not to care. This man is so loud, it is comical. But then it is annoying. And then it becomes quite painful. I want to send him a memo: "I am sure that whatever is keeping you from speaking on a public bus at a normal level is putting you in a far worse condition everyday of your life than you are putting me in now." I move in a huff to a row of seats in the middle of the bus. The loudest man guffaws and it makes my heart leap. The rest of the passengers drop their newspapers to look up. How could someone be so loud? HOW? He must be drunk, they are thinking.
Stevie Wonder croons but I can barely hear the words, only the part where the horns blitz. I would like for the lights on this bus to flick off, and for a hush to befall this bus. The driver will continue along Mass Ave., past MIT where a "Geeks Crossing" sign once stood temporarily, and no one will talk. Some of the passengers will wonder why the driver has not stopped the bus and others will cling tightly to their handbags. But soon we will be heading over the bridge, taking in the skyline of Boston. I will look to see a dim set of lights on 14th floor of the Prudential building where a custodian is cleaning the accounting department. He loves his job because the atmosphere is so quiet. No bosses to dog him, nobody to rush him. He even carries his generic ipod with him while he empties the trash, only raising the volume to 26 when he vacuums.