As bus merged onto the highway, leaving no chance for unhappy passengers to disembark, a group of Slovakian college students old enough to know better broke into song. The driver remained completely unmoved, plowing on ahead. Somehow believing their entertainment would be appreciated, a boy in a polo shirt led the tune, propping himself against his seat to gaze around at his bold fellows. During his smiling and crooning, craning to catch his compatriots’ eyes, he managed to miss the distress of their audience.
Riders scowled and steamed, or scrambled for headphones. A tiny grey-haired lady very near to the conductor’s elbow made a great scene of covering her ears with her hands. The songs continued. The mood in the bus sank against the cheer of the choir.
Out the window, a fragile elderly man climbed a ladder to touch up the paint on his birdhouse for the Virgin Mary. The small religious shrines peppered the cities, but one rarely had a chance to see a restoration in progress. The man extended his brush while clinging to the ladder with the rest of his body.
The grumpy ones glaring out of the bus would have seen him there. Posed in front of a field of sunflowers, he added a wheat yellow coat of paint. This slow moving man and his shaky paintbrush became an opportunity for distraction, a gift of peace, for the passengers suffering a ceaseless Slovakian sing-along.
-Bus from Vienna to Bratislava.