On the Bus Vol. 1- Sally, Hillary and Kiwis

Since my husband and I have moved from New York City to the small quaint river town of New Hope, PA and I now spend three hours a day almost every weekday on a bus, I have had to find ways to fill up my time other than judging all the other commuters. Hence, I am starting a blog  cleverly entitled On The Bus to let you know what is going on in my head during these long rides.  I just assume you are all curious.

First, I thought it would be nice to fill you in on some tips for riding a bus in case you decide you want to move to a more rural life one day, but don’t want to quit your job in the city and sell wildflowers on the local corner or become a small-town sex worker to make ends meet.

The main goal of any bus rider is to do all you can not to have someone sit next to you. Placing your backpack in the adjoining seat or sitting by the aisle rarely works. This is just looked at as a challenge by the more aggressive commuters who will simply climb over you or ask you to pick up your bag. Plus, you look like a blatant asshole.

Glaring at someone with your computer on your lap to communicate that you are trying to write an On The Bus blog and need plenty of elbow room to type doesn’t work either. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just know.

The only thing I’ve found that works is to sit at the very back of the bus right next to the restroom. There are three seats in the back row instead of two, and people instinctively don’t want to sit next to a bathroom. There are obvious reasons for this, but if you don’t mind the smell of deodorizer or knowing who on the bus is having stomach issues you can most likely get a seat with plenty of room.

If you must sit next to someone because the bus is full then make sure you scope out the busline ahead of time to know who to avoid. The important businessman who is going to mumble on his phone the entire ride is easy to spot. There are other annoying commuters to avoid as well  like the lady who was in line in front of me tonight who was noisily slurping and ravaging a kiwi in the middle of the filthy Port Authority Bus Terminal. She would stop every once in a while and glare at me like a rabid wolverine as if I was going to try to snatch it from her hand. I had to admit I wanted to only to end the carnage. She had a whole bag filled with kiwis so this behavior didn’t seem like it would be wrapping up soon. An entire bus ride to New Hope next to each other would end in her murder. I would then have to retitle this blog On Prison Row.

The other important thing in my life besides the bus is Sally Struthers. She is appearing in the local Bucks County playhouse production of Clue and I am absolutely obsessed with meeting her. That is one of the advantages of living in a small town. I am not likely to meet Bette Midler because I work in NYC and she is playing on Broadway. But in New Hope, you run into just about everyone if you walk down main street often enough. I have a new friend in New Hope who actually has run into Sally several times and even been invited by her to see the play. I feel about him like I do the kiwi lady. I hope he and Sally are happy together because our budding friendship is on shaky ground. (And if you are young and don’t know who Sally is, you should. All in the Family is one of the greatest and most important sitcoms EVER. Google it please!)

I have one more week to meet Sally before the play closes. I found out she is staying in an apartment above a tattoo parlor. I may have to cover my body entirely with tattoos in order to casually run into her. I’ve often said you don’t reach your goals without some pain.

Speaking of pain the other thing on my mind is Hillary Clinton. I just finished reading Shattered about her “doomed campaign”. I liked her even more than I have for the last 20 years after reading that book. A lot of people get mad at me because I like her. Republican friends get angry—yes I have Republican friends—they are all from my high school and I try really hard to see their side of things but voting for Trump still absolutely confounds me. Bernie supporters get mad at me. People who are mad at her for losing get mad at me.

But I think her heart was in the right place and she tried something really hard and she failed, but she gave it her all. (I realize it shouldn’t be hard to beat Trump but it seems it was for a lot of Republicans too). So I will keep admiring her and everyone who disagrees with me will survive. And I will hope with time and while she is still alive, history will treat her more kindly. I know this is making some of you mad but just try to breathe through it. I’m trying to breathe through these next four years.

Enough with politics. We are nearing my stop. Just one more thing.

Whenever I get on the bus, the internet page pops up on my computer. The box I have to click to get online contains some  wise words. It’s good advice whether you have lost the presidency to a reality star, are starring in a local play after having won two Emmys and and just might be being stalked by a middle-aged gay man, or taking several long bus rides a week so you can  live the life of your dreams. The words I read every morning and evening? I Accept These Conditions.

It’s good advice. And, now that I think about it, might possibly look good as a tattoo on my left clavicle.

Have a good weekend!  See you next week!

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Keith Hoffman lives with his artist husband, dog and two cats in the small town Lambertville, New Jersey 72 miles outside of New York City. He has completed a memoir entitled The Summer My Sister Grew Sideburns.

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