I spend part of my commute home on our employee bus. It takes us from work to the outskirts of central downtown Yerevan, with a few stops on the way. Our bus driver is a no-nonsense kind of guy, who is all business. No dawdling while departing the bus, or he’ll take off while you’re in mid-descent. No chatting, eyes on the road, and he waits for no one. Although as one of my major life accomplishments, I have gotten him to smile, wave, and say buh-bye as I’m leaving. It’s awesome.
Yesterday, he seemed in more of a hurry than usual. I took note of his steely glare in the rear-view mirror as one of the ladies was gingerly climbing down the bus steps. He was rolling as soon as her second foot touched the ground. I knew that meant that I needed to stand up and be waiting at the door ready to depart, when he pulled up to my stop.
I didn’t grow up using buses, or metros, or any kind of public transportation. I say this because I’m not as skilled at standing up or maneuvering inside moving vehicles as my compatriots. I basically hang on for dear life. I’ve also noticed that public transportation drivers in Armenia take it for granted that every person in their vehicle has superior balancing skills. They (the drivers) have a steering wheel to hang on to, so I have theorized that they don’t know the effect that their abrupt stops and zooming starts have on their passengers. Needless to say I’ve stumbled around a few times.
But today I was ready. I stood in the doorway, braced myself against a pole, and waited for the bus to come to a full stop. The driver apparently took this as a challenge. Instead of his normal glide up to the curb, he took a sharp right , a quick halt, and popped open the doors. In a move that I still do not understand nor could I ever duplicate, my mouth opened for a brief second, and my gum dropped out. Right on the floor. At my feet. A big white blob of gum.
Now, I couldn’t just leave it there. Jump over it for the next person to step on. So I did what I thought was the only logical solution, I bent down, and picked it up. As I was doing so, I thought to myself, “gee, this looks like a tooth”, and did a quick grab and flick so it wouldn’t stick to my fingers. I turned to the driver to say my thank-you’s for the delightful ride and saw that he was staring. “Shnorhakalutyun” I called out. No wave or buh-bye in response. Just staring. Ok, maybe he had noticed the gum projectile. I looked back at the other passengers and saw that yes, everyone had seen the gum projectile. I jumped off.
The mystery is if they thought it was actually a tooth, or were just marveling at how ridiculous it was for gum to just drop out of my mouth. I’ll never know, I’m not planning on doing field polling. The adventures continue!