PREFERRED MEMBERS? ARE THERE ANY PREFERRED MEMBERS ON THIS BUS? IF YOU ARE A PREFERRED MEMBER YOU MUST GET OFF AT THE NEXT STOP. AT THE NEXT STOP, IF YOU ARE A PREFERRED MEMBER, YOU WILL GET OFF THE BUS AND YOUR CAR WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE YOUR CAR, BECAUSE YOU ARE A PREFERRED MEMBER, YOU CAN GET A FREE UPGRADE. I REPEAT, AS A PREFERRED MEMBER YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A FREE UPGRADE, SO DO NOT SETTLE FOR JUST ANY CAR. AGAIN PREFERRED MEMBERS WILL GET OFF THE BUS AT THE NEXT STOP AND PREFERRED MEMBERS ONLY.
“Michael,” I loud whispered, “can you see the driver? Is he using a bullhorn?”
G and I were seated in the front right corner of the bus. I couldn’t see an iota of our driver. For all I knew he was the disembodied voice of God. Michael stood over us. He held onto the luggage rack above us with one hand and did an upward facing dog arch of his spine to see if he could catch a glimpse of this man and the instrument he used to amplify his voice beyond what a human ear could bear. Just as Michael’s back bend was about to allow him a clear view, the Wizard of Oz boomed out again.
ANY CHAIRMEN? ARE THERE ANY CHAIRMEN ON THIS BUS? IF YOU ARE A CHAIRMAN PLEASE IDENTIFY YOURSELF.
The intensity of the blast almost knocked Michael onto the ground. He stumbled to grab onto the luggage rack across the aisle from us for support. Had he missed it he would have toppled onto a set of important golf clubs. Their importance had recently been verified by their owner who had an altercation with a woman who had dared to try to board the bus before them. Michael steadied himself.
CHAIRMEN? ARE THERE ANY CHAIRMEN ON THIS BUS? I NEED TO CALL YOU IN BEFORE WE ARRIVE IF YOU ARE A CHAIRMAN.
“Chairman?” I mouthed to Michael across the aisle. Chairman of ABC Rental Car?
NO CHAIRMEN? NO CHAIRMEN ON THE BUS? I REPEAT, PLEASE ALERT ME IF YOU ARE A CHAIRMAN BEFORE WE REACH THE RENTAL AREA.
As I was about to count a third second of blissful silence, a milquetoast, middle aged man whose rounded shoulders created a concave haven for his Izod alligator shot up as if a cattle prod had just jolted him from a deep sleep.
“I’m a Chairman,” he said with a breathless stoicism generally reserved for the likes of Indiana Jones.
WHAT? HOLY SH*#! LET ME STOP THE BUS!
The driver stopped the bus short in the actual middle of the road. In the sea of honking horns and whiplash victims Michael was jostled back to our side of the aisle.
Then there was silence, perhaps only because we were in the midst of a chairman, but it was silence just the same. There were hushed tones and what we think was the breaking open of a previously untouched, What To Do When You Have a Chairman on Your Bus manual. Then a series of numbers were dialed and our chairman returned to his seat. The driver started up the bus and we were back en route to the preferred members area when we heard the crack of the bullhorn again.
SIR. I NEED TO INFORM YOU, YOU ARE NOT A CHAIRMAN. I REPEAT YOU ARE NOT A CHAIRMAN. YOU HAVE MADE A MISTAKE ON YOUR RESERVATION AND YOU ARE NOT A CHAIRMAN. YOU CAN GET OFF AT THE NEXT STOP WITH THE PREFERRED MEMBERS BUT NO ONE WILL BE THERE TO GREET YOU PERSONALLY AS YOU ARE NOT A CHAIRMAN.
Oh my God oh my God oh my God. I looked down at the floor and held my breath. Michael put one hand over his mouth and looked into the corner to conceal his laughter.
“Are we on an SNL skit?” I whispered to him. “Is Fred Armison driving this bus?”
After all the preferred members disembarked, we were the only people left on the bus. It drove us about an additional twelve feet to our non-preferred stop. There was no one in line in front of us. We immediately received a perfectly lovely 4 wheel drive SUV and drove off.
“Look what I found at the check out desk,” Michael said.
He handed me a Chairman application form.