Uncouth teenagers tend to annoy me. Is this a sign of "getting old"? To the contrary, I believe it's a sign of my dislike of rude people. You know the ones. They have their earplugs in, don't look at you when boarding, etc. There are plenty of kids who have great manners, and kudos to their parents. So, when Miss Fussy Britches boarded my bus the other day wearing clothing too revealing for a 15-year-old, complete with orange hair, nose studs, snotty face, and tats she's too young to understand the significance of, I was a bit miffed. Not at her appearance mind you. I've come to accept if people want to look like a bad carnival act, it's their business. Usually they're nice, and nothing fazes me any more.
Miss FB puts in her money, but I do nothing. I hate being ignored, take it as an insult even.
My time clock shows I'm plenty early, and I need to kill some time. Might as well have fun while I'm doing so, I reckon. My thumb is poised over the screen, but I say nothing, do nothing. She sighs. Hands on hips. Gives me a dirty look. I raise my eyebrows at her as if to say, "Yes, smartass?" Instead, I motion for her to remove the earbuds.
"What?" she snarls.
"First," I reply in my Nice Operator Voice, tinged with a tad of over-sweet sarcasm, "good morning, Miss. Second, the machine doesn't read minds. What type of fare would you like?"
"Youth All Day, of course!" Miss FB says to me, pouting while simultaneously rolling her hideously made-up eyes. The other passengers, while silent, are probably enjoying this scene.
"Well don't tell me," I say with feigned indignation. "It's the machine that gives you the fare, tell it what you want."
Miss FB sighs again and leans into the ticket printer. "I said Youth All Day!"
Still, no ticket prints out.
"Did we leave our manners at home today?" I ask. "This machine abhors rudeness."
"Watch what you call me dude, or I'll report you!"
A few chuckles from the Honored positions. Stifling laughter, I dummy up my English.
"Please and thank you are the preferred response to a Voice-Activated Ticket Dispensary, Miss."
One of my elderly passengers, with whom I had been discussing discourteous youth, gives a hearty laugh and covers her mouth. Miss FB turns around to see Granny grinning at a book in her lap. She looks up at her and says, "This is a wonderful story, you might enjoy it."
Nice cover-up, I think.
"I don't read, old lady."
Granny nods her head and raises her eyebrows as if to say "obviously, dumbass".
A full minute has ticked off my clock, and it's time to roll.
"Well, Miss which is it? After a certain amount of time, the farebox eats your money and won't give you a ticket."
"Fine!" she shouts. Leaning inches from the ticket printer she says slowly, enunciating clearly but not too loudly, "One Youth All Day ticket, please!"
Instantly, I press the corresponding button on my screen and the ticket prints. Miss FB actually jumps back a little in surprise. She recovers quickly, snatches the ticket, gives me a petulant look and walks back to a seat.
Turning to my side window, I let out the laugh that has been held inside, albeit silently. Don't want Miss FB in on the trick too soon.
A few minutes later, two disgustingly "normal" looking teens get on and the young lady says "May I please have two Youth All Day fares, sir?"
I've already seen the $5 bill in her hand before they boarded and pressed the corresponding button, so the tickets begin printing instantly. I'm sitting there with both hands on the wheel, watching Miss FB. She now has her mouth open a little, shocked at how quickly their tickets printed.
The fun over, I glance back every few minutes, as usual, at my passengers. Granny has sported a full grin ever since Miss FB's fare printed, and she lets out a hearty laugh as our eyes meet. Miss FB herself scowls at me, and once I thought I even saw an extended middle finger. An indication of her last IQ score, I gather.
Luckily, Miss FB deboards before Granny. As we roll on, Granny wags her index finger at me.
"You naughty, naughty man!" she says with a chuckle.
"Come on now ma'am," I say, "do you really blame me?" I wink at her.
"Nicely done," she replies with a sharp nod. "Haven't seen many drivers with such a wicked sense of humor! Loved it, actually. It was all I could do to keep from spitting my chewers onto my lap."
And that, my friends, is one example of how I honor my Daddy's wise advice to "have fun every day".