Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Good morning, ladies and germs

March 21, 2014

I was riding around on the solid metal germ incubator again. In other words, I took the bus Downtown. There are a lot of advantages to taking the bus. You can nap on the way. It’s much harder to nap on the way to town when you’re behind the wheel, but I’ve done it. Once, I feel asleep at a red light. All those people behind me honking woke me up just because the light turned green. How rude!

Another advantage to taking the bus is parking. Finding a place to park on Liberty Avenue isn’t cheap or easy. Remember the days when “cheap and easy” were the only words associated with Liberty Avenue?

When I have to go Downtown on a weekday, I like to take the bus.

There are several disadvantages. There was the really loud lady talking to someone at 7 a.m. I think the morning bus should be like the red-eye. They should hand out blankets and turn the lights off until the sun comes up. Above all, people should be quiet. I learned all about her ex-husband and his shenanigans; my word, not hers. Her words were crass and vulgar. It wasn’t before-breakfast conversation. Technically, I was eavesdropping, but it was nearly impossible to ignore. I was six rows back. I felt so sorry for the people in her immediate vicinity. The other woman (not “THE other woman,” but the one who sat next to her) nodded and said, “Mmm-hmmm.” She’d throw in an occasional, “Really?” She kept trying to glance down at her Kindle. I knew she was not planning on listening to this woman’s story, but neither was I, and we were all trapped.

Did you notice noise pollution is a recurring theme in this column. I love a raucous rock band, a booming action movie and a crescendo at the symphony, but I hate the way noise has become ubiquitous in our culture. It’s my newest soapbox. But if I shout my complaint from the rooftops, I just become part of the problem.

There was a closer noise to me that was even more annoying. The guy who sat next to me kept coughing. He would sneeze, too. A few times our elbows would clang together when either of us would shift in our seats. He felt warm even through our winter coats.

I imagined squirmy, amorphous germs flying out of his mouth, floating through the air and landing on me (those cartoon germs you always see in Lysol commercials). I was a hostage. The bus was on the parkway. I would have been unable to leap off, even if I could (not that I would have). I just didn’t like knowing I didn’t have any options.

I am not sure if I’m getting sick or if it’s psychosomatic. I drank hot tea, and I’m trying to flush out any possible germs (cartoon or otherwise) with a big bottle of water.

I might drive next time I have to go to town.



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