Last night I saw something you rarely see: a DeCamp driver too stunned to take full advantage of an opportunity to be rude to a customer.
A soft-spoken young man, clearly not at ease with the English language, boards the 66 at Port Authority. He's trying to communicate something to the driver, but it's not getting across. I hear the would-be rider say something about "my first time." The script starts to play out as it always does in these situations. The driver's voice rises until he is bellowing at the guy: "Where are you going! WHERE ARE YOU GOING!" as if through sheer volume he's going to break through all barriers of language and culture that separate them. Giving up hope of ever getting through to the guy, or perhaps just tired of shouting, the driver, supremely annoyed, calls out to the rest of the bus, "Can someone please sell this gentleman a ticket?" and pulls back from the gate.
Multiple people offer to sell the guy a ticket. Various exchanges follow. But somehow the transaction is not completed. He's wandering the aisle, proffering his money to anyone who will acknowledge him, even as the bus careers into the tunnel. Finally the driver yells, "What's going on? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, MAN?"
A passenger, not the man in question, replies, "He needs change." Driver: "Change?" Passenger: "Uh, for a hundred-dollar bill."
At this point I'm expecting the driver to slam on the brakes and throw the guy out a window, but something odd happens. The driver sputters. He stammers. He stutters. I imagine little flecks of spit forming on the windshield. He is so astonished by this guy's colossal ignorance--innocent ignorance, to be sure, but ignorance nonetheless; I mean, people just don't do this sort of thing on a DeCamp bus--that he cannot get out whatever insult or expletive that is caroming around his mouth. His speech has been rendered as useless as that of the bewildered foreigner.
At last, the driver heaves a big sigh, as if to say, "I'm done. I don't care anymore what happens here." Someone gives the guy a ticket, free. Everyone's relieved. And then foreign guy makes his way to the last unoccupied seat on the bus--only to find it occupied by a giant suitcase whose owner is unwilling to move it.