Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creatures of the Bus; A Grand Circle Tour of Mexico

During a recent tour of Mexico I was fortunate to add seven observations to my creature life list and I was able to accomplish the task from the comfort of a seat on a luxury tour bus without the need for binoculars. Here, in no particular order, are the creatures spotted.

1. Seatgrabber: The Seatgrabber can be spotted boarding the bus early and claiming their preferred and prized seat before others have an opportunity to board. Once a seat is claimed it is, in their mind, owned for the duration of the trip.
On this trip the Seatgrabbers were neutralized by a seat assignment policy imposed by the guide. The guide assigned all the seats and changed the assignment each day so the guests could experience views from different parts of the bus. While effective, this process caused some level of discomfort for the perennial Seatgrabbers which was interesting/fun to observe.

2. Seatclaimers: Closely related to the Seatgrabber, the Seatclaimer employs similar techniques to achieve their goal; board early and stake a claim. But the Seatclaimers can also use their skills to claim seats for friends who are not on board. A Seatclaimer will swoop onto the bus and, much like a wolf marking its territory, will drop books, coats, purses or other personal effects onto a seat thereby claiming it for themselves or their friend.

Foiled by the seat assignment policy on this trip, the Seatclaimers focused their efforts on “off bus” seating; in restaurants, at craft demonstrations, on trains, etc. In those venues they were still effective, though sometimes they had difficulty exiting the bus quickly enough to “mark” the best seats.

3. Firston/Firstoffer: The Firston/Firstoffer is closely related to the Seatgrabber. They have a genetic disposition to be the first to board the bus, exit the bus, reach the lobby, reach the baƱo, reach the tea supply in the market, etc. It matters not if the seats are preassigned. You can slow them down by placing obstructions in their paths—canes, luggage, block the aisle—but they will usually prevail and it is often better to clear their path to avoid personal injury.

4. Aisleblocker: The Aisleblocker is not unique to the bus tour industry; they are most visible on planes during boarding and exiting. But they employ the same traits in both travel environments. Once they reach their assigned seats they linger in the aisle while they stow their luggage, remove their wraps, direct their travel companion and a range of other activities, many of which could be conducted after they take their seat.

Short of being rude, there is no defense. After years of observation I’ve concluded that Aisleblockers cannot be cured short of a new 12 step program focused on that affliction. If you encounter an Aisleblocker just relax. They will sit down eventually.

5. Rovers: The Rover is most prevalent in environments where the seats are preassigned. As soon as roll is taken and the bus is in motion they will begin to rove, seeking a better seat assignment. Some may simply ask a fellow traveler to swap seats. But more often they will prey on the single traveler and grab the vacant seat beside them.

If the Rover is a pleasant person, this can be beneficial to both parties. The Rover finds a seat they prefer and the single traveler has a companion for the day.

However, if the single traveler is seeking privacy and/or would rather not sit with the Rover, awkward situations can occur. There are several defenses a single traveler can employ to resist a Rover onslaught.

• Place knitting, books, bags, etc on the vacant seat.

• Sit in the aisle seat, making access more difficult.

• Don’t bath and/or wear excessive amounts of perfume/after shave.

• Cough and sneeze or otherwise feign illness.

6. Questionasker: Also known as the Nonlistener, the Questionasker exhibits an inability to hear instructions from a guide. This creature can best be explained by example.

Guide: “When we leave the bus the restrooms will be in the red building on the left. Everyone should be back on the bus by 9:30.”

Questionasker #1: “Are there restrooms?”

Guide: “In the red building on the left.”

Questionasker #2: “What time are we leaving?”

Guide: “9:30.”

From years of observation I’ve concluded that this species will survive mankind.

7. Overtalker: The Overtalker can be found anywhere in the bus. They insist on talking when announcements are being made so they, and those around them, cannot hear the instructions. Overtalkers are often also Questionaskers. Those around them, who might be good listeners, are often mistaken for Questionaskers because, despite their best efforts, they were simply unable to hear the instructions due to the background noise generated by the Overtalker.

Bus trips can be long and tiring. But having the opportunity to spot and observe new bus creatures can help pass the time and enhance the quality of the entire experience. I look forward to future trips where I might be able to add to this list and enrich my soul.

1 comment:

  1. Love your writings. And welcome to my world. After enjoying the same observations. I found one of my favorite territories is in the very back of the bus or plane. Just to enjoy watching the strange creature called man.