Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken Bus

I’m writing today on the bus. It’s not a chicken bus, but it’s just as slow. The last time (well, the only time) I was on a real chicken bus, I had a bladder infection and had to ‘hold it’ for 5 ½ hours on the way from the Guatemala border all the way to Lake Panajachel through the Sierra Madre, on my way to visit a stray Wakefield hippie. I distracted myself by covertly slipping plantain chips to a little kid who was squished between me and his father as he slept with his machete between his thighs and his other kid on top of that. The bus groaned and lurched along to blaring latino pop tunes, stopping every 2 minutes to pick up more passengers and discharge garbage out onto the highway, or wherever. Hijole! That was a loooong ride, the scenery was gorgeous, and one chicken bus ride was enough for me…

Today’s bus is a lot cleaner and I fit into the seat, designed for adults. My bags enjoy a whole spot to themselves beside me. People with large personal buffer zones get on and off the bus without so much as a squawk. Rain pours down outside and the scenery is strip-mall Hull interspersed with stations d’essence and depanneurs. I don’t have to wonder what will happen next, or how much to agree to pay, although I do wonder where to get off to make a connection to the ‘other’ side, (Ottawa), and then to the O-Train to Carleton University. “C’est une autre compagnie,” the drivers tell me, explaining their cluelessness as to what goes on ‘over dere’. Three busses later, I find it myself.

You see, I have been exploring transportation alternatives in the region since the SAAQ (the Quebec Car Bureaucracy) suspended my license and vehicle registration for taking five unfortunate steps across petite Rue St Henri next to Jean Talon Market in Montreal last October. “But officer!” I had protested, to no avail. Apparently yellow stripes are not universal markers for pedestrian crosswalks, but how am I supposed to know that, estie, tabernack?! I tell everyone who stops to pick up the hitchhiker-with-a-briefcase my tale of woe (or, whoa!). I even told the cops who stopped to harass me the other day. Oddly, I have the luxury of time and the creativity and patience to make do in the meantime, so my car stays parked, and I’m going back to Montreal next week to fight the ticket, which has grown from $55 to $210 in the year that I ignored it. (Ca c’est ma faut, biensur!). It’s extortion, and I won’t pay it. I will wear decent clothes and address the judge as ‘your honor’ en francais.

Yesterday was a holiday for my thumb and I was glad that I didn’t have to go anywhere. I was woken early anyway by the rumble of another kind of chicken bus as it pulled up in front of my window, packed full of 89 yapping birds on their way to the Thanksgiving Day slaughter. The old bus has been parked out on the back 40, serving as a hen house, but it will be empty now by sundown. (Maybe I can borrow it to get to school tomorrow, and mark my trail with mud and blood through the tunnels of Academentia!) Meanwhile, the farmer and his sons have their work cut out for them, as wringing chicken necks “is never very pleasant,” the farmer’s wife, my friend, advises gently. I think it’s a good thing— young boys learning where their food comes from, and how to face the grimmer side of life, right in front of my window. I would have even stayed to help, but... I had to catch the bus.


  1. I added your blog to my list of blogs on my blog where I blog.

    Have a nice trip back to LaLaLand.