Sunday Confessional: How I choose who to sit beside on the bus

you cant sit with us

Ever since that story came out about that guy who chopped up his seat partner, I’ve been a little extra cautious when I sit down on the bus. I mean the rule of thumb is that we don’t judge others — as good Christian folk we try not to notice a person making the same mistakes over and over, and we ignore the extra wing of eyeliner that in theory is a good idea but in practice just looks ridiculous. But the truth is, under every single one of our gazes lies an inner dialogue that — despite our efforts — ain’t always nice.

When I travel by Greyhound it’s because flying within Canada is stupid expensive and because my travel plans have been so last minute I couldn’t have made it to the airport in time. It’s not really by choice is what I’m saying. It’s a necessary evil of being on the go. There isn’t one single person ever, probably, who was all “man, I just had the best Greyhound trip.” That’s just not a sentence people utter.

I mean, if there’s one place in my little town that people go when they want to learn the definition of derelict — it’s the Greyhound station. It’s very transitory, very post-apocalyptic, the coffee tastes like gasoline and costs fifty cents, and absolutely everyone is traveling from somewhere like Fort McMurray or Moose Jaw.

And see? Just like that — judgement.

So how do we do it? How do we determine, through our horrible squinty eyes, which judgements take priority? I personally like to be the person at the window seat so I don’t have to be the one who decides if she’d rather have dread-locked smelly guy or sleeping mom with screaming baby — but I can only maintain my self-important bitch face for so long before someone’s pillar of judgmental priorities has me at the top.

And sometimes, I don’t have the luxury of getting on the bus first. Sometimes I have to wait my turn and — GASP — make that call.

I know we can’t judge books by the cover. I know what Jeffery Dahmer looks like and I’ll be the first to admit I think he was kind of hot in a creepy ’80s way.

I know we can’t judge the players of Big Brother by their first game.

I’ve been trying to convince my dad for years that just because someone rides a Harley doesn’t make them a criminal. I just happen to have always accidentally picked the criminal ones. My bad, dad.

People are filled with so many surprises. The beautiful 20 year old with her nose in a book — the one you think you’re safe beside — yeah, she conjured up some freaky shit after she read 50 Shades of Grey.

We just never know! Sure, the cover of a book can probably tell you what income bracket someone lives within and whether they like to lift, bro, but that’s about as far as it goes. It’s a horrible, horrible practice. And the thing we always seem to forget is that everyone knows we’re doing it.

So I’ve developed a method of madness that is still totally judgmental, but that makes the whole process a little easier. I simply sit down beside whoever looks like they wouldn’t mind having me fall asleep on their shoulder accidentally. Yeah, maybe it’s because they want to chop me up. Maybe it’s because they’re leaving Fort McMurray for the first time in 60 days. Maybe it’s because the lady is reading a Bible in her seat and she knows that the nice thing to do is just let me rest my eyes for a bit at her expense. Whatever the reason, I judge based on what I think they think of me as opposed to the other way around.

Then I get off the bus and think to myself great, now my face smells like patchouli. 

XOYW1

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Why You Need To Do Something Stupid, Immediately

This past weekend I left my Grandmother and Aunt in the London suburbs as I flew to the Channel Islands to visit my Disney sister, Tori. The last time I saw her I was riding Peter Pan drunk and throwing my cell phone into the air as opposed to my Mickey Mouse ears. It’s hard to think it has been 8 months since I left the tropical storms of Florida behind and moved back to Canada (brr.)

Seeing as I’m always in the throes of some sort of identity crisis and right now is no exception, I figured nothing would centre me more than showing up on her doorstep and reliving what was – I maintain – the simplest four months of my entire life.

Anyway, I couldn’t come all the way over here and not see her. What’s the point of taking shitty foreign jobs if you can’t make friends that last a lifetime, amiright?

Maintaining friendships when you don’t like staying in one place is tough. First of all, there’s the whole international-texting-cost-a-million-dollars-thanks-Rogers-communications thing, but secondly, it’s difficult to remain close to someone if you’re not actually close to them.

I mean we’ve all dabbled with long-distance relationships, but that’s what PornHub and FaceTime are for.

Unfortunately, while I love my girlfriends and frequently send them sexts to edit before I use them IRL, the situation doesn’t have a temporary quick fix. You kind of just have to make the most of it when you are together.

I’ve learned that the best way to bond with someone is to do something stupid together. Get accosted by the police in a church parking lot, take a spontaneous trip across the border, go skinny dipping at midnight, purposefully let the car run out of gas in the middle of the desert, drunk dial your boss when you’re at a Metallica concert and tell him you’re both going to be sick tomorrow . . . you know the drill.

You remember stupid things. You remember things that make good stories. You remember things that put you out of your comfort zone and most importantly, you remember the person you experienced them with.

So while I’m not telling you to go off and drink a 40 of Jim Beam and see where the night takes you, I’m going to gently suggest that the next time you only have a moment to spend with someone important to you, you do something stupid.

Jump out of a plane, go sing hip hop karaoke, crash a wedding with an open bar, break into your parents house and make bacon at 3am even though you don’t live there anymore . . .

And I promise that the next time you see them – even if it’s 8 months from now – it will be like no time has passed at all.

xo & yw

 

 

How to flush a British toilet

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Honestly, there are some moments during which you just need to stop and ask yourself … what am I doing wrong in this life?

There are some things you will never know until you learn them the hard way. Some things you will never want until it’s too late. Some things you will not wait for until the moment crashes into you disastrously. There are some things in this life you should Google before “winging it.”

I know this now.

Ask anyone what the difference is between a Canadian and a UK toilet and they’ll tell you the same thing.

“Nothing.”

“Just flush.”

That’s a lie if I ever heard one. Anyone has obviously not had the experience of turning around to find a dangling chain attached to their toilet.

“Pull,” one would think.

One is an idiot.

Thankfully, I learned long ago that it’s not a faux pax to bring your iPhone into the washroom. Goodness Gracious.

Hello from England — the land of tea & crumpets! I’ll be traipsing around this side of the pond for the next while, but I promise this is the last you’ll hear of their toilets.

Actually, I can’t make that promise. Looking back, I’ve written quite a bit about toilets. You could only be so lucky.

Let me know your favorite haunts & I’ll tell you what kind of trouble I get into with the Queen.

xo & yw

 

I’m Amazed I Survived My Backpacking Trip Around Europe!

Caroline writes about living a quaintrelle life whilst working 9-to-5 at Sparkles & Crumbs.  She lives in Cambridge, but her heart belongs to Rome (and Gregory Peck).  You can follow her overenthusiastic efforts to bring more Sparkles & Crumbs into her life on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram
 

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So, several years ago – inspired by the Bouvier sisters and too much swooning over Roman Holiday – my best friend and I decided to Interrail around Europe. To this day, pretty much everyone we know can’t quite believe we did it.

It’s understandable, I suppose. I have never owned a pair of walking boots – or, indeed, anything that could practically pass for walking shoes of any kind; camping makes me feel physically ill; scruffy people morally offend me. At eighteen, we’d also never left the country without parental supervision before. I think our families feared the worse. Still, donning our bright pink backpacks [filled, of course, with truffles, novels, and sundresses], we set off courageously in search of pizza, romance, and high adventure. We found plenty of that, of course; but that’s not to say our nearest and dearests’ predictions about our incompetence were entirely misplaced.

You see, Steph and I are, in many ways, quintessentially English. We like complaining; we like scones; we dislike bad grammar and queue-jumpers. We are also completely, utterly, [but, we naively hoped, endearingly] bumbling. After all, we hail from Britain – “the land of embarrassment and breakfast,” as Julian Barnes so wonderfully put it – and we certainly did our heritage proud during our jaunt on the continent.

Getting lost whilst going from King’s Cross to St Pancras – which are in the same station – before we even left England was the first sign of things to come. And it only went downhill from there…

One memorable incident took place early on, on our night-train from Lyon to Florence. The journey began pleasantly enough, with a stroke of unexpected good luck: it turned out that we had a whole couchette compartment to ourselves! Night trains in Europe are a bit of a mixed bag, especially when you find it impossible to decipher the native language whilst booking them; for the same standard-price ticket, you can end up with a squashed seat between a nun and an irritating German couple, or – as we discovered this time around – four bunk beds between two of you in your own lockable room. Tres North by Northwest!

Whilst Steph carefully laid out her toiletries, I busied myself exploring our new abode. Spotting a metal bolt on the door with a big hole in it, I – quite naturally, I thought at the time – gave it a prod.

Which turned out to be a mistake.

“Um, Steph…” I said nervously, after a few minutes of increasingly frantic door-pulling. “I think we’re locked in.”

Steph didn’t look up from unfolding her pajamas. “No we’re not, just turn the knob.”

“No… we’re not locked in there… the bolt’s stuck.”

Steph leapt to her feet and rattled the door herself, before rounding on me. “How did that happen?”

I swallowed in trepidation. “…I pushed it.”

The air around Steph practically crackled with uncomprehending rage. “Why would you do that? WHY?!”

“I don’t know!” I wailed. “Why did they put it there if they don’t want people to push it?”

“Because they assume children can’t reach that high!” Steph snarled, before turning her attention back to attempting to force the bolt down. “Oh, God, we’re really locked in… Help! Help us!”

A passing American couple stopped as they passed by our compartment, peering in through the window. “Are you OK in there, honey?” asked the woman.

“No!” Steph replied, verging on hysteria. “We’re locked in!”

“Don’t tell them I did it,” I whispered shame-facedly, from my position slumped on the bottom bunk by the door.

“She did it!” Steph pointed at me accusingly. “It’s all her fault!”

“Um… OK, honey.” Our good Samaritan was a little non-plussed, but cheerfully determined to be helpful. “I don’t think you’re stuck. Just turn the doorknob.”

“I’ve tried that!” Steph barked. “It’s the bolt at the top! She shoved it in, and now we’re stuck!” At this point, I was beginning to get a bit claustrophobic – and had just made the mistake of glancing up at our would-be rescuer, which meant I now noticed the big red fire hammer positioned on the corridor wall just opposite our compartment. “Oh, God,” I groaned. “They’re going to have to smash us out! Steph, they’re going to smash open the door to let us out!”

“Um, we’ll just go get the conductor,” the kindly American cut in, dragging her husband away – she had obviously quickly realised that she was out of her depth. Meanwhile, I buried my head in my hands and muttered, “We’re going to get covered in glass when they smash us out, Steph!”

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, no we’re not,” Steph snapped irritably. “I’ve just fixed it.”

My head snapped up. “What?”

Steph sighed as she slid our door miraculously open. “I just managed to slide my nail in and wiggle it up. I’ll go let those Americans know not to worry about the conductor. You stay here, and just… don’t. Touch. Anything.” Too relieved for a retort, I nodded meekly and collapsed onto the bed with a sigh of relief.

Of course, Steph’s fury was entirely justified; but by the end of our trip, neither of us had escaped unscathed from our uniquely English brand of blundering and humiliation. [Just ask Steph about our return journey back to England, which featured too much pink champagne on the Eurostar and some hair-raising moments on the Underground, and watch her turn red… but that’s a story for another day!]

Yet despite our ineptitude and our share of shame-faced moments, we still managed to snatch first kisses on the Ponte Vecchio, ring the wishing bell on Bled Island, swim through bat caves in Corfu, and watch Audrey Hepburn movies on outdoor screens in Paris. That’s one Sparkles & Crumbs lesson I firmly believe in: the adventures are worth any mishaps along the way.

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Interested in making a confession?  Email me at anchorsandfreedom@gmail.com