The People on the Bus Go Round and Round

I live in New York. My boyfriend lives in This Glorious City, which is four hours away from New York. A substantial portion of my good friends live in Washington, DC, which is five hours away from New York. This being the case, I spend a lot of my time on the bus traveling up and down the East Coast -- let's say one weekend out of two or three.

All of this time on buses means that I have a lot of time to look around and grow to loathe my fellow passengers. (Reading on the bus makes me naseated, listening to my headphones wears out my batteries eventually, but feeling smug? No side effects to speak of!). The passangers who offend the general sensibility fall into many camps, but the group that was most prominent on my ride last weekend were those anti-social prizewinners who put their bags down on the empty seat next to them, as if said bags were their closest friends.

Now I can understand the desire to have both seats to yourself. This is a normal and human impulse, as is the impulse to not wedge your bags into the small and awkward overhead storage bins unless necessary. What I take issue with, however, is the practice of leaving one's stuff on the seat and burying one's head in scholastic material, furiously reading and equally furiously avoiding the imploring gazes of people getting on the bus and looking for a seat. "Hey, look at me study!" is the vibe these voyagers give off. "I am so involved in my work! It is important and scholarly! You don't want to interrupt genius at work, do you?" Well bucko, yes, I do, especially since I am on to your little game -- in over a year of observation, I have not seen a single one of these "scholars' keep up the charade of studying beyond the point where the bus doors close and all seats have been chosen.

Last weekend, for example. Offender 1 sat across from me. A young woman with long straight brown hair pulled up into a sort of ponytail, she had her colossal backpack beside her, and rested a big fat paperback copy of "Swann's Way" with an uncracked spine on top of it. She gazed at the 15th page or so attentively while absent-mindedly smelling the end of her ponytail.

Offender 2 sat across from me and one seat up, shimmering like the dawn in his leaf-green thick ribbed turtleneck sweater and artfully tousled hair. His stategy was to make a wall with his backpack, around which you could glimpse the financial aid packet he was leafing through.

Both of my nemeses leafed and gazed with dedication as we idled in the station, but occaisionally their veneer of Ivy-tower distance would crack. When they thought no one was watching their eyes would dart up from their reading materials, and, weasel-like they would scan the surroundings, looking down the aisles to see if anyone was about to try and usurp their bags.

Once the bus pulled out of the station, however, it was a different story. We hadn't even reached the highway before both them had safely stowed their reading materials and had plugged in their headphones, freeing up their backpacks to be used as pillows. "Jackasses," I thought enviously as I clutched my bag in my lap. These people are a menance, and need to be stopped, if only so I can one day have two seats to myself.