Maybe you're one of them?

Toxic travelers


By Brenda Tadyich

On a summer day trip by motorcoach to New Jersey I had a flashback to my grade school bus-riding days. It was also a harsh reminder that some people never learned the basic fundamentals of bus etiquette.

This trip brought to mind childhood bus rides and the always interesting display of personalities.

Bobby’s house was first and like clockwork, he would be finishing his cereal as we arrived.

There was also the chatterbox; the big sisters with little brothers and the occasional, “I’m telling!”;  the loud one in constant need of attention.

There was the quiet kid who gazed out the window the whole ride; the sleeper who often needed a push on the shoulder when the bus arrived at school. 

In general, the boys were rowdier than the girls and there was always more energy after school than before.

We were expected to wait our turn to get on and off the bus, those closest to the front disembarked first. It was a pretty simple procedure governed with absolute authority by our school bus driver.

On my recent trip on a coach (they’re not called buses when it’s for touring purposes), we were being shuttled to the sand and sun in Cape May, New Jersey. Apparently there were a couple of people on the trip who never learned proper bus etiquette.

A chatterbox graced me with her non-stop dialogue about the size of her kitchen, the amount of trash her neighbor puts out, and a list of all the other trips she’s taken. I heard about the sister who put her clothes in the freezer when her air conditioner was broken so she could stay cool, and on and on…all the way to Cape May.

What a time to forget my ear plugs.

Meanwhile, there were those who sat together and never spoke a word - even when they weren’t staring at their cell phones. There were the sleepers and there was the one who stared out the window the whole time. On this trip, unlike my school days, the males were quiet as church mice.

To my annoyance, that one person who always has to be first was on our trip. This woman inexplicably sat in the back but charged her way down the aisle - while the bus was still moving- as if all of Cape May might sink into the sand if La Conquistadora wasn’t the first person off the bus.

None of these minor irritations put a damper on our day. We took the Lewes Ferry, ate, shopped, ate some more, learned history on a trolley tour, and topped it off with ice cream. It had been hot and humid outside and we had walked several miles. At the end of the day, we were ready to sit in the air conditioned coach and relax. 

Alas, a loud-talker was on our trip and completely disregarded etiquette about being mindful of other passengers when using a cell phone. For twenty minutes, her phone conversation recounting the previous five hours assaulted our ear drums with a minute-by-minute recount of her day:  What time she was dropped off and where she was going to go and then where she actually went and what she bought and what she ate and how many people were there. 

What a time to forget my ear plugs.

Fortunately, she was part of the first group to be returned to their drop-off point. After her departure the entire bus, who suffered through the excruciating details of Miss Loud’s day, shared a good laugh  - even the quiet ones were laughing out loud.

My manners were mostly taught at home, supplemented by the threat of nuns with rulers, and under the ever-watchful eye of our bus driver. I am proud to be in the 90th percentile of those schooled in appropriate bus etiquette.

And I’ve learned that if you can’t beat them, you can always laugh at them.