Sometimes when I’m the last person on the bus I pretend it’s one of those party buses, but a really cheap one so it doesn’t have flashing lights or a minibar or a disco dance floor or a hot tub or a bathroom or a kitchen with a celebrity chef or wifi or an espresso machine or a fireplace or a tape dispenser or a gym or a library or a holographic chimpanzee or a carpentry class or a hedge maze or a miniature boxing ring with brown recluse spiders going at it or a racetrack. I’ve never been on one of those party buses so I don’t really know what’s on them in case you couldn’t tell. Anyway I sometimes get distracted by my own thoughts or a podcast I’m listening to so I zone out and don’t pay attention to where the bus is. My stop is the last one before a long stretch of interstate entry and exit ramps where there are no stops. There’s no place for the bus to stop. If I forget to pull the stop cord in time I might as well ride the bus all the way to the end of the line and circle back.
And that happened to me once. I’m proud—maybe a little too proud—to say it only happened once, although it’s not really a big deal. I felt like a schmuck and tried to pay a second fare but the driver just laughed and told me to sit back down.
When we arrived at the end of the line—the parking lot of a large shopping center—I sat back and thought about what being at the end of the line meant. Have you ever seen a mile marker to the next town and wondered where exactly the boundary is and where does town really begin? I’ve heard the phrase “the edge of town” in so many stories. It’s always a place where shady things happen so I picture it as dark and lonely place, even if the events occur in the middle of the day. The point where the shopping center is was once a Native American burial ground, and even before the shopping center came along must have been on the outskirts of town. Urban sprawl has pushed the outskirts farther out. I wonder whether the town boundaries have been redrawn to keep up or if the road signs still mark the same number of miles from one town to the next.
The bus started up again snapping me out of my reverie. I didn’t want to miss my stop a second time.