Su Lum: Insurrection
When our cruise ship landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I was the last person loaded onto the bus to the Miami airport, placed into a front-row seat which the driver had been saving for a no-show.
It was immediately apparent that the bus was boiling hot and that the passengers who had been sitting in it for a long time had reached the end of their rope. As I got on, two men were getting off and were raising hell because the air conditioner wasn’t working.
Their mood was not improved when the bus driver twisted a few knobs and insisted it WAS working. The men sought higher authority and succeeded in rounding up a uniformed functionary who admitted that the a/c was indeed broken, but we had to proceed anyway, the sooner the better, or we’d have to wait for another bus.
The two angry men grumbled back on board. One was a Frenchman who sat with his wife directly behind me.
Thus it was that we set out on the 45-minute bus ride into the nether reaches of Hades. Not only were we suffocating from the heat, the driver cranked up a radio station playing the very worst corny Jesus music ever recorded.
Nothing against Jesus, but this was the “Drop Kick Me Jesus, Through the Goalposts of Life,” “I’m a-Gonna Rock My Way with Jesus through those Pearly Heavenly Gates” genre of Jesus music, torture to the ears of captive passengers who had just spent seven tranquil days at sea.
I fell back on self-hypnosis, hearing the therapist’s voice: “Roll your eyes up, Su, now close your eyes and roll them down, that’s right, now take a deep breath and just relax. Another deep breath, and another, Su.”
After an eternity, we got to the Miami airport. The second the driver stopped the bus, I was on his heels and the Frenchman was on mine. The driver, who was going out the door, spun around shouting that no one could leave the bus until he’d unloaded all the luggage.
The door slammed, and we were trapped. The Frenchman, howling, pounded on the window of the door, then turned, snapped off the radio. Everyone on the bus applauded. There’s a lesson to be learned here: If you’re miserable, the chances are that everyone else feels the same way, but you and they are just too chicken to say it. We, the clappers, wait for someone else to say it.
In the cockpit, I saw a “DOOR” button, tapped the Frenchman on the shoulder and pointed to it. I wish I had pressed it myself, but was I glad that he did. The door slid open and precious fresh air flooded into the bus.
The driver was waist-deep in the luggage compartment, hurling out suitcases, completely unaware that his busload of captive passengers had turned into a busload of escapees who were quietly exiting the bus, plucking their luggage out of the pile and trotting into the air-conditioned airport.
By the time the driver realized what had happened, we and all the luggage had vanished and nothing was left but an empty platform.
There are rules and there are rules, and the only effective rules are those that people agree are worth following. We are very soft, especially in these trying times, about drawing the line between meaningful rules and bullshit rules, but it was heartening to see a line drawn on that bus trip to Miami.
[Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks we’ve become too intimidated. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]
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