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. DO NOT SETTLE FOR JUST ANY CAR. AGAIN PREFERRED MEMBERS WILL GET OFF THE BUS AT THE NEXT STOP AND PREFERRED MEMBERS ONLY.
“Can you see the driver?” I loud whispered to my husband, “Does he have a bullhorn?”
My son and I were seated in the front right corner of the bus-not an iota of our driver was visible. For all I knew, he was the disembodied voice of God. My husband stood over us. He held onto the luggage rack above us with both hands. He let one hand go in order to arch his spine back and catch a glimpse of this man and whatever instrument he used to amplify his voice beyond what a human ear could bear. Just as his back bend was about to allow him a clear view, the voice 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 my husband to the ground. He stumbled to grab the luggage rack opposite us for support; had he missed it, he would have toppled onto a set of very important golf clubs. Their importance was recently verified by their owner who had an altercation with a woman who dared to board the bus before them. My husband 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 my perplexed husband 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 almost counted a third second of blissful silence-a milquetoast, middle aged man shot up as if a cattle prod had 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, my husband 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. Then 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. Just when the driver had us back en route to the preferred member’s area-the bullhorn cracked 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. My husband put a hand over his mouth and looked into the corner to conceal his laughter.
After all the preferred members disembarked, we were the only people left on the bus. It drove us 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 four wheel drive SUV and drove off.
“Here, I grabbed this for you at the checkout desk,” my husband smiled.
He handed me a Chairman application form.