I wondered how it was I had found myself on the bus hugging a 12 pack of toilet paper on the ride home.
My coworker was going on a Target run during the day and asked if I needed anything. Like a psycho, I answered, “Toilet paper,” without hesitation, thinking it would save me from a trip to the store later, and I could just bus home with it. No big deal.
After shamelessly delving out the specifics of what I wanted her to buy, I found myself walking to the bus hauling a the package of TP under my arm once the work day was over.
The bus was on time, which was a miracle in itself. I was able to leave a little early from work since I’d logged in so many hours earlier in the week, so I knew it wouldn’t be a crowded ride either. This was the perfect toilet paper transport day.
But good luck was not on my side for much longer.
Unbeknownst to me, apparently 4 pm on this particular Friday was exceptionally busy, meaning I had to share my seat with a stranger (something that rarely happens on my bus unless it’s rush hour).
So there I sat, toilet paper and handbag in my lap so some teenager could sit down next to me and play on her phone.
I tried to be dramatic and make it seem like a struggle to move my things, so maybe she wouldn’t want to choose the seat right next to me.
But she beelined to me, eyes glued to her phone, using some sort of sixth sense to choose the empty seat near me and not any of the other bus patrons she had passed on her way.
I had put my headphones in preemptively to avoid conversation once I saw the bus was filling up quickly. As I’ve learned from my past experiences, it tends to be best NOT to get too involved in the bus dramas.
Like the time a man exposed himself to the woman next to him causing the driver to pull over and walk back to reprimand him.
Or the time the driver who had to announce that if two people didn’t stop fighting he would have to pull the bus over like we were all children and he was threatening to turn the car around. Which, by the way, ended in him pulling off of an interstate exit to kick one of the perpetrators off who didn’t heed the warning. As the man exited, he yelled, “Well Merry Fucking Christmas to all of you! Thanks a lot!” Like maybe all of us as bystanders had somehow managed to force him to engage in arguments with multiple people.
So I sat, wondering if I was not the weirdo in this situation, holding tightly on to my toilet paper around each corner.
I also worried that such a prop opened up the door to a bus conversation, which I did not want to have.
I figured someone would yell, “Hey Two Ply!” to try to get my attention. And that was not a nickname I wanted to stick.
I also saw someone turning around in their seat eyeing me the whole time, and was genuinely concerned that he would try to bum a roll off of me.
And would I do it? Could I part with a roll? I guess so. But I don’t want to be involved in that conversation. And hadn’t I really earned every single roll by not only purchasing it, but hauling it all home on public transit.
In the end, I stuck to my rule of not making eye contact and not so discreetly exited the bus, feeling a sense of relief and freedom that I had made it home, all 12 rolls in tact.