Thursday, November 24, 2011

Greyhound 4 Scene

Scene: Greyhound bus stop. Four people are sitting in a square. The Hipster (H) has a large travel backpack full of stuff. The Businessman (B) has a small travel bag and a messenger bag, he is wearing a brown trench coat and a shirt and tie underneath. The College Student (C) is fairly nondescript; introverted and has three bags: a backpack, a large duffel, and a cooler. The Quiet Man (Q) has one black medium sized backpack and is wearing an unlabeled sweatshirt and jeans. He has a large coat with him and the backpack sitting on his lap.

H: (to C) where are you headed?

C: (turns to look at him cautiously, but tries not to reveal her reticence). Portland.

H: That's cool. Me too. Spending some time with family I guess?

C: Yeah.

H: That's good. Family is good. You from around here?

C: No, I just go to UW. I'm studying math.

H: That's great. Cool stuff. I loved college before I dropped out. The parties were great, and my professors were so smart. I left because of the pressure. That and this sickness. That's why I have this face mask. I'm sick already, and if I get sicker I won't be able to handle it. (slight pause). Math huh, that's a great field do you like it?

C: I suppose, I just always knew I would do it. I am good at it so I like it I guess.

H: that's hard stuff. Hard stuff. Yeah, it's really hard stuff. You know, that's a gift. You shouldn't take it for granted. It's a great gift to know math and be good at it. I was only a psych major. My dad told me, after I told him, “son most people are psych majors because they want to figure themselves out. You want to figure yourself out and then you'll leave.” I told him he was wrong, that I would follow through. (Laughs) I guess he was right.

Q is texting, and continues texting; pauses, looks around, and resumes texting. B enters and sits across from H. Long pause, B pulls out a newspaper and sighs heavily. He loosens and undoes his tie.

H: Nice tie. You don't need it to travel though.

B: Pardon?

H: I said nice tie. But you don't need to travel. (Laughs uneasily).

B: (Laughs back). Yeah I guess. (He turns to lift his paper).

H: But you know what I always say, can't wear something that will choke me. No turtlenecks and no ties...but I've had to do that before; wear a tie. I didn't wear a tie though. I wore a clip-on. Walked right into a room full of men in expensive suits and shook their hand with a clip-on tie. Ha...what do you do?

(Q gets on the phone and starts speaking, at first in a low voice and with short answers)

B: I'm a clerk, I file.

H: I couldn't do that. That's tough stuff. If I were you I would only be in it for the benefits.

B: Yeah, it gets boring sometimes. You're right, I'm only in it for the benefits.

H: We're getting swindled. Those big corporations are exploiting us and making us do things like file folders. All for some measly benefits...y'know?

B: Yeah. The benefits are important.

H: I don't know what I would have done if it weren't for my allergy. I'm allergic to iodine. The hospital I went to when I was sick. They didn't check to see if I'm allergic to the iodine they gave me—they gave me the most overpriced one—they just handed me a prescription. And I was allergic to it. It sent my system into panic. So then I'm sick because they didn't follow procedure and I pointed it out to them. I was the first person to point out that flaw in their system. I had to bring a medical malpractice suit against them. And I'm poor, so what do I do? I can't afford a lawyer, so I had to present my case on my own. Can you imagine? Me against a bunch of hospital lawyers? I finally convinced them they had bad practices and they settled. I don't know how I would have paid for my prescriptions.

B: Yeah, prescription drugs are expensive.

(Q gets louder on the phone. His voice is tight and low.)

H: I almost didn't travel. I was down at the Occupy Seattle protests. I've been down there for the last two weeks y'know. And I got a call from my parents. They wanted to see me. And I almost said no. But then my father—he never pays for anything for me—he offered to pay for my travel. He's been a lot nicer since I got sick.

C: (looks up at him, seems concerned. She pulls out her phone and answers a text) I'm sorry about that.

H: (starts opening pockets in his bag one at a time looking for something.) what? Oh, the medical stuff. Don't worry. I have my mask and I got my doctor's sick. My immune system even compromised my doctors. They had flu shots and everything. And I got them iPod but no headphones...I know I packed them here somewhere. (continues rummaging).

B: (begins to look more concerned, puts down his paper half-way) what are you sick with?

H: probably some cold virus. The doctors can't really tell because of my iodine allergy. So they just give me expensive drugs and hope it goes away. Are you going to Portland too?

(call overhead for Vancouver. Q temporarily starts yelling over the speaker)

B: No. I'm going North. Happy Thanksgiving. (he swiftly exits).

(Long pause, Q is listening on the phone, saying curt yes's or no's. C is looking at a small packet of papers for a class. H keeps rummaging through his backpack.)

H: Ha, two iPods but still no headphones. I might have to pull all my stuff out and camp here. Y'know what I mean? (he unzips pouches puts some clothes on the seat in between him and C) They are here somewhere.

Q: (gets much louder suddenly) there's no way that—that's a complete lie and you know it! Damn it! No, I'll talk to you later...ok...fine...yeah...happy Thanksgiving.

(C looks shell shocked; H has now gotten off his chair and is digging around for headphones through all of his stuff. A distant announcement for final boarding to Vancouver)

H: Ah here they are! I wonder why I put them there? (turns to Q while he starts packing the bag back up) Never where you think right?

Q: (looks up bemused) yeah, I guess.

(H keeps packing up his things. A man with a toy dog in a children's backpack walks by. A woman in a space blanket scurries in the other direction.)

H: so where's home for you?

Q: I don't know. I'm going to Portland for Thanksgiving though. Does that answer it?

H: I suppose. I understand. I was in Europe a couple months ago on a spiritual journey. And people always asked me where I was from. I don't know either. I mean, I'm an American sure, but we are people of the earth. And after a while, well it seemed like where I was from was where I had just been. (turns to C) What about you? Is Portland your final destination?

C: um...No. I'm getting picked up by family and heading to Salem. That's my real home I guess.

H: Yeah, I liked being a kid. It was so simple. Where you were from was where your family lived. After college I had to change that definition. My home wasn't my family's. The two of you will understand.

Q: (sighs heavily) No, I understand. I just graduated this past May. Sometimes home is where the people you are going to visit are. But they are just as scattered as me--

H: yeah. Yeah, that's profound. We've become a homeless generation. You know, I'm sick like this and half the problem was getting treatment. No one wants to take me if I don't have insurance or even a permanent address. Getting health care was so tough. And these banks and HMOs are making record profits and I have to defend myself against the doctors and lawyers that kept me from getting better in the first place. It's insane.

C: It looks like the bus is late for us.

Q: yeah, what a day to travel; at least it's not raining.

C: I guess.

(Long Pause, the overhead finally announces the Southbound bus to Portland)

H: I guess that's us. Happy Thanksgiving guys.