During our stay in Fredericksburg we used public transportation to get us from the hotel to the historic sites we visited and back. Public buses contain such a variety of people: Some are really friendly and talkative, others have their headphones in, their head down, and their fingers furiously texting. We had two trips that were startling different experiences:
During one trip we sat in the seat in front of two young college girls. At first they talked about their classes, but very quickly they were distracted from their conversation by my baby, who kept smiling at them over my shoulder. In their same hushed tones they cooed at her, waved, and laughed when she waved back. They were apparently delighted by her attention and kept saying how cute she was. I don't think they knew I could hear them because suddenly things took a rather dark turn:
Coed 1 "That is seriously the cutest baby I have ever, ever seen."
Coed 2 "I know!"
Coed 1 "No, really. I want that baby. I want to keep it forever."
Coed 2 "At the next stop we could just grab her and jump off the bus and run away."
Coed 1 "We couldn't run too far. Maybe all the way to Mexico."
Coed 2 "I think Canada is closer."
Coed 1 "But the baby would get so cold."
Coed 2 "Not if we just kept cuddling her, she is so cute."
Coed 1 "They would let us across the border as soon as they saw her smile."
Coed 2 "She could charm us across any border."
Coed 1 "Seriously, though."
And then they went back to talking about their classes. I was very amused. When we got off the bus (at the same stop as luck would have it) I walked away feeling light and happy. My baby is ridiculously cute.
During the return trip on a different day we sat in front of two women who were somewhere between mid twenties and mid thirties. As soon as they sat down one of them made a noise and made a comment about a smell. A few seconds later she again brought up a smell, this time in a louder voice.
Immediately on the defensive, I covertly sniffed Alexa's diaper: clean. I leaned over and sniffed Ash's coat: smelled fine to me.
"Who does that? I mean, why would anybody smell like that?" She asked her friend. At that point I wondered if she was sensitive to perfume, and someone on the bus was wearing too much. But then the women made a comment about how such a bad smell was making her sick. A few seconds later she grabbed a bag from her friend and threw up. She was sitting right behind me. It was so gross.
She retched a few more times, then very loudly began to complain about the smell.
"Bus driver! Do you have disinfectant spray or something? You need to spray. I just threw up, it smells so bad. Someone smells so bad it made me sick. I just threw up, it's so bad. Why would anyone smell that bad?"
The bus driver didn't say anything, but handed back a trashcan and a bottle of disinfectant spray. The women sprayed so much of it that it made me sick. Someone pulled the cable to indicate to the driver he needed to stop at the next stop, and less than a minute later the bus driver stopped and a man exited the bus. He was cheerful and polite to the bus driver, thanking him for the ride, but as he passed me in the aisle I caught a strong whiff of urine. As the bus drove away I watched him form the window: he was homeless. I don't even think he was at his stop.
"Who smells like that? Why would anybody smell so bad?" The women behind me muttered to her friend.
My heart dropped into my stomach. How could she be so cruel to someone so cheerful? He had to have heard her. I'm sure that was the reason he got off the bus. I wish I had figured out what was going on earlier. But even if I had, what could I have said or done?