|Finally on the road!|
|(Pretty close to the look my seat mate had as I sat down.)|
I made small talk and overcompensated for my nervousness by rambling to her for a solid half hour. My seat mate and I were very different from each other. She was genuinely bubbly, happy, and alert; I was genuinely crabby and inherently lazy. She was a mother of two, and grandmother of two; I owned two dogs. She was devout in her faith and regularly attended her church; I went to church on the High Holy days, and Sundays I knew a dinner was being served after the service. I would not be deterred, though, in my quest to win her over. In fact, I decided that I would win over all the RA's sitting around me. Sure I started off on the wrong foot, but surely I could salvage this. Of course, being from such a small town, we all knew of each other, but I am sure had you asked any of the RA's if they ever thought they would be locked on a bus with Keith Stewart for 15 hours, they would have laughed in your face.
|(Family Travel Mix)|
Sadly, on closer examination of what was being offered on this bus I discovered that it was neither nerve pills or Benedryl. It was, wait for it, here it comes...Gas-X. What?! Seriously?! Already?! We hadn't even had a meal yet and Gas-X was needed, and from the way it was being passed around, needed badly by several RA's. This caused another momentary panic for me, but I dug deeper into my Tina Turner Playlist. I closed my eyes and listened to "River Deep, Mountain High" and "We Don't Need Another Hero" all the while praying I didn't begin smelling anything that would tell me the Gas-X had not worked.
It was soon time for our first rest stop of the day. Over her microphone, Nancy told everyone to quickly do their business at the truck stop and we would be back on our way to NYC in a jiffy. Both tour buses unloaded, and all one hundred of us disembarked and headed for the bathrooms. Snacks were purchased, along with drinks WITH SCREW TOP LIDS. We stretched our legs, and I talked to a few of my friends from Bus #1. I voiced my concerns that I was now on Nancy's bad list, and that none of the RA's wanted to be known as my friend. They did not really seem to care one way or the other. They said a few patronizing words about being sure I was overreacting and then headed gleefully back to their own bus.
|(Nancy was mad and judgmental.)|
Nancy's outburst gave me an unexpected connection with the other RA's. They now knew what it felt like to be on the wrong side of Nancy and Udean's Christian Tours rule book. Maybe this was the similarity I needed to win them over! I was renewed with energy and conversation with my seat mate for another hour or so. Eventually, she basically told me to stop talking because she needed a break and was going to take a nap.
|(Zumba and/or Church)|
I eased back into my uncomfortable seat, placed my headphones back on, turned on "What's Love Got To Do With It" and just smiled. I had made a friend or two. Maybe this trip would be fun after all.
|(Tina never lets me down.)|