My afternoon was going well. It was the first day of school, I'd been back from Air Force ROTC field training only a few days, and civilian life felt like paradise. If I had suddenly burst into song, everyone around me probably would have sung backup and performed choreographed dance moves like I was in a musical. Everything was great until I got on the shuttle bus.
Allow me to preface the following by saying that most of the time, I view taking the shuttle as the lesser of two evils. The greater evil, what with being a college student and all, would have been to drop two hundred dollars on a parking permit. While taking the shuttle to and from the free parking lot takes more time, I'm all about saving my benjamins.
Once you get used to it, the shuttle isn't so bad. True, it can be crowded, occasionally late, and nearly always too hot, but these conditions are forgivable. The real issue is when you are forced to deal with one of Them. By that, I mean one of those particular types of people that, if seated nearby, will make your shuttle ride absolutely miserable.
The first of these cretins is the Loud Talker. While this person usually sticks to his or her cell phone, it is possible for two of them to actually be sitting together and interacting in person. You'd think they would cancel each other out or something. That couldn't be further from the truth. Loud Talkers amplify each others' speech exponentially, and quickly exasperate all others in the area. Putting on your headphones helps, but you can still hear them, no matter how loud you crank the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The second horror you might encounter is the Smelly Nerd. This person is usually male, and won't talk at all, instead choosing to whip out the PSP or DS and get in a little portable gaming. In fact, gaming is the indirect cause of this person's offensive odor. They spend so much time playing videogames that personal hygiene becomes a secondary concern. Rest assured, it will become your primary concern if you encounter one of these people while using public transportation. Your best bet is to open all windows around you (if they open) and hope for some ventilation.
The third destroyer of your public transportation experience is the Overweight Female. I know that sounds sexist, but in my experience the Overweight Male is relatively self-aware, whereas the Overweight Female, whether out of denial or naivety, has an unfortunate tendency to sit in open areas that are clearly narrower than she is. This results in an invasion of what little personal space (and dignity) you have on a bus. Furthermore, there is no acceptable recourse in this situation that isn't incredibly rude and socially unacceptable. Just close your eyes and try to think happy thoughts until the ride is over.