So we’ve been called to the table by a friend following the blog, and apologize for causing you to wait so long for an update. Last weekend boringly demanded house work. Leo’s doggie hair had accumulated to the point large tumbleweeds gathered, with a force equivalent to magnets, in gigantic balls in every corner, and around furniture legs. We were forced to stop the presses to address this issue and somehow two weeks slipped by.
The week prior it rained. We’ve had drought here in South Carolina, so this was the first rainy week walking to bus stops. Amazingly all the umbrellas hiding at the backs of closets were found easing the perceived misery of this first wet week. We didn’t quit, but decided that from here on out, the umbrellas will live right next to the front door in an orderly fashion. They serve a great purpose now that the splash and dash three-step run/jump from the old porch’s wide, dry overhang to the courtyard parking space where the Jaguar used to lie in wait is no longer an option. Dealing with the rain didn’t suck that bad, so we remain to date, carless and in full utilization of our public transportation system, which again presented indisputable fodder for this blog.
Friday brought the last morning drizzle. By afternoon the weather had cleared with a hazy sun and heavy blanket of humidity filling the air. The five o’clock whistle blew leaving only a short amount of time before the next bus arrival. Throwing on the raincoat just incase, we hastily made it to a nearby store in time to grab a few required toiletries. Passing the bus stop on the opposite side of the street, we noticed a couple sitting on the bench. In, out and back to the stop. The couple was still there and it was satisfying to know the bus had not been missed. Drawing closer, the couple’s disheveled appearance became obvious. Falling into their line of site while stripping off the sweltering raincoat, the man got up and began to rearrange the beaten, faded blue suitcases piled on the bench. Although this gesture was appreciated, we assured them moving the luggage was unnecessary. The man then offered a sideways smile and asked to borrow a lighter as he simultaneously patted his upper body in a staged search for an elusive pack of cigarettes. As part of the act, he quickly discovered (shocker) he was out. But this exercise offered a good, planned segway into his next bit of small talk which incorporated the smooth request for a dollar. You guessed it. To buy cigarettes. From what we understand, the current tax structure has elevated cigarettes far beyond the price of a single dollar. So, this too, like the lighter question, was met with our fervent “no.” He then blurted, “we’re on vacation.” “Well, that’s nice.” Honestly, how does one respond when vacation consists of standing at a bus shelter in thick Carolinian humidity with two dirt-caked, used-to-be-blue suitcases and several metal boxes asking locals for money? While we were still processing that information, the frumpy NeoHobo stuck out his hand. “Got bit by a dawwg.” A yellowish-blue mark accentuated a large scabbed over area on the front of his hand. Our eyebrows went up. “Yep, Golden Retriever.” OK, this sounded outlandish (we have a Golden), so with standard un-emotional, bus stop bland news anchor seriousness, we dared, “Golden Retriever, you say?” “Yep. I stuck my hayand in that car winder and it jus bit the shyit outta me.” Well, there you have it. Sticking one's hand into a car window to pet a stranger's dog is not exactly the most sound plan. Intelligence – questionable. The woman was digging around behind him in one of the metal boxes sitting neatly on the bus bench. NeoHobo continued, “we’re from Ash-veeelle, North Carol-eye-na, an this here’s my wyyyife.” The apple shaped woman rushed to his side with a peculiar “don’t go lookin’ at my man” kind of gaze, then added, “an we been married now two yea-yers.” From one of the metal boxes she had retrieved a white rat. Clutching it close to her chest, its long, pink tail snaked down the side of her hand and wrapped around her wrist as she stroked the animal. Is this really happening, became the question flickering between our synapses. Hobo guy kept up. “I toll ‘er I’d take her to all the places I been, so we’re on our way to Sullivan’s Eye-land…where else you think we ‘aught-ta go?” Completely perplexed by their definitions of travel and vacationing, and wise enough to recognize the great distance between our individual reference points, we politely suggested Folly Beach for a cool, laid back environment. Swiping at his browned, leathery face, NeoHobo reminisced, “oh yeah, I been there too - a long time ago, I remember now. I’s there once…so yeah, I promised her I’d take her everywhere I been.” The woman had left his side and was busy corralling the rat back into its metal box, but snapped her head in his direction as she curtly expounded, “but I’m payin fer this vay-cay-shin!” The economics of their wanderlust had obviously popped up in the past, clearly as an issue of contention. Dodging the financial planning discussion, NeoHobo quickly reaffirmed his need for cigarettes, to which we sensibly offered directions to the convenience store right on the other side of the trees. “You stay put now, hear?” “An keep waitin’ fer that bus,” he instructed the woman. The woman’s dirty navy sweat pants had ridden up her flat rear to an alarming depth as she continued to lean over the bench shoveling wads of Spanish Moss she pulled from the trees into a plastic cup. Neatly pulling out the straw and placing the lid on top, she said, “I’m gonna keep this…it’s really cool stuff and I can’t find it at home.” Then she rose, turned toward us, squared off, and announced, “I’m in college, you know. Yep, I’m an actor. An actor taking classes in Ash-veeele.” Just as we were wondering if it was worth while to mention the microscopic chiggers alive in the Spanish Moss the woman had handled, the bus rumbled around the corner. Thank God. Hearding us aboard, the driver surprisingly addressed the Apple-shaped woman directly as we found a seat. “You changed stops! I already called in your prior location at Patriot's Point!” The woman stammered grabbing at her long, stringy, black hair, and NeoHobo came running through the trees. Out of breath he exclaimed, “but we got tired of waitin’ at that stop!” The driver responded, “the bus to Sullivan’s Island is a call-in route. I called it in and you were supposed to wait where you were! Now I gotta call it in again, and you’ll have to wait here until they can come back this way!” The two transients looked defeated. Their travel itinerary had obviously suffered a severe blow. From the window we watched them walk in circles, arm motions between them suggesting the conversation was growing heated. The city bus pulled away.
Finally riding toward home we wondered where the transients were going to spend the night on an island recently recognized as the most expensive address in the area. Maybe they planned to unpack their bags and sleep illegally atop a dune on one of South Carolina’s most pristine beaches. Or maybe the actress paid in advance for a 10 bedroom beachfront rental where by midnight they’d be sipping champagne and enjoying succulent, deep red, brown sugar strawberries dotted with honey drippings. If only they could reach their destination!
We have no idea what valuable life lesson this experience was supposed to provide. We’ve travelled with no reservations, but this couple probably deserves a reality TV show dedicated to their travel follies. We’d tune in, mesmerized and unable to pull ourselves from the inevitable train wreck.