THE DRIVER: I apologize for the long delay, folks. Totally out of my control. Looks like we'll be heading through Chicago in the middle of rush hour, which can't be helped. And if the WiFi doesn't work, there's nothing I can do about it. So now, just sit back, relax and enjoy your ride!
THE FRETTER: Oh my God! Why do you think the bus ran so late? What if it's a mechanical problem? I hope we don't break down on the turnpike! Do you think we'll have to wait until it's fixed? Or do you think they'll send another bus? I hope they remember all our luggage if we have to transfer! My medication is in my bag! I really, really need my medication!
THE TALKER: (nudging me) They always run late. And the WiFi never works. My sister-in-law's mother's friend works for the bus company, and she once posted on Facebook that...
THE EATER: (Rips open bag of Cheetos. Selects one. Chews loudly. Swallows. Crumples bag shut.)
THE MOTHER: Joe-Bob! Put those pants right back on!
THE BABY: *howl*
THE DRIVER: (swerves into other lane)
THE FRETTER: (reaching across aisle to grasp my hand) Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Did you see how the driver just missed that semi? I wonder if she's ever even driven a bus before! Do you think she's new? Someone should ask her if she's new. I'll bet she's new!
THE TALKER: Well, then I told the CVS clerk that if I ever get a tattoo...
THE EATER: (Reopens Cheetos bag. Selects one. Chomps. LOUDLY. Scrunches bag shut.)
THE MOTHER: Jody-Mae! Stop sucking on that lady's elbow this very instant!
THE BABY: *HOWL*
THE DRIVER: (Pulls over to side of highway. Heads to back of bus, where she spend ten minutes talking to passenger in hushed tones but with very animated hand gestures.)
THE FRETTER: What's going on? Can you hear what they're saying? It looks like they're conspiring! Do you think they're terrorists? Do you think we should gather everyone together and come up with a plan?
THE TALKER: But trust me on this, I follow all the Republican candidates on Twitter, and so I can definitely tell you...
THE EATER: (Opens Cheetos bag. Searches thoughtfully. Selects just the right one. Chews. Chews. Chews. Closes bag.)
THE MOTHER: Jizzy-Sue! I said get away from that steering wheel!
THE BABY: *HOWL* *giggle* *HOWL*
THE DRIVER: Well, we're just twenty minutes away from our stop in Toledo, folks, but first we're going to pull over here at this next plaza for a half-hour or so. Could be longer. I can't say for sure.
THE FRETTER: Why do you think we're stopping? Do you think we should get off? Do you think it will be safe to get back on? Should we grab our luggage?
THE TALKER: ... which is totally ludicrous, and I should know, since my mother was Catholic and my father was Jewish, and ...
THE EATER: (Opens Cheetos bag. Chooses one. Chews, as if every bite is amplified throughout bus. Closes bag. Reopens it. Pauses. Closes it again.)
THE MOTHER: Jehovah-George! How many times do I have to tell you, we do not eat chewing gum from the bottom of the bus seat!
THE BABY: *HOWL* *HOWL* *HOWL* *HOWL*
THE DRIVER: Well, here we are in Toledo, folks. Again, sorry for the delays. Hope you enjoyed your ride, and that you'll travel with us again soon!
THE FRETTER: Why do you think the police were at the plaza to meet us? Do you think they went through our luggage? Do you think we should report this to the bus company? If I report it, do you think I'll have to give my name? I'm afraid to give my name.
THE TALKER: So, wait, I never caught your name. Hey, we should exchange phone numbers! And I'll be sure to friend you on Facebook! Do you tweet?
THE EATER: (Opens Cheetos bag. Dumps the rest into his hand and swallows. Crumples empty bag shut. Drops it on the floor.)
THE MOTHER: Are we all here? One, two, three... eighteen, nineteen, still counting...
THE BABY: (sound asleep)
Any roadtrip stories you care to share? Who's up for the next bus ride with me?