Thursday, April 28, 2011

travel advisory

Traveling by bus is a test of endurance on every human faculty. In my early teens I traveled by Greyhound  to visit my sister in Alberta. I set off in the early morning light with high spirits and a bulging bag of edible entertainment.
What was this? A stop already?
Ahh, back on the road. Trees flashed past.
Another stop.
More trees.
Another small town.
Trees, towns, trees. My mind slowly became a straight line. My enthusiasm flickered and extinguished.
Hour after endless hour, the bus toiled onward.
Sleep seemed the only hope, a way to swallow up the yawning gulf of time ahead.
I pushed the buttons at the front of the armrests and prepared to float backwards into unconscious oblivion.
The seat remained rigidly upright.
I pushed the buttons again and leaned back on the seat.
Nothing.
I jammed the buttons and hurled myself back.
The seat stood like a stone.
Worse, I could feel my face beginning to burn. It seemed to my adolescent self that every eye was fixed coldly upon me, where in reality I was likely the most entertainment my fellow passengers had enjoyed in hours and they didn't want to miss a second of it.
Mortified and uncomfortable I shifted about in my seat and mercifully fell asleep.
I don't know how long the bus droned on until it encountered the bump in the road.
With a thunk my seat released its catch and I reclined in an instant, my arms and legs flying into the air.

It was only a few years later that I flew to visit the same sister.
I sat in a centre seat, and as I pushed both armrest buttons to recline, I inadvertently reclined the startled gentleman to my right, his arms and legs flying into the air.
I had not improved with time. I'd gone from being a hazard to myself to being a hazard to those around me.

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