Still not moving–thirty minutes after the departure time. Passengers check the clocks on their cell phones, sigh, slap their legs, make utterances in their native tongues. When the bus to Budapest is finally on its way, a woman in the seat behind the driver decides to put her rainjacket in the overhead storage. When she opens latch, her whole compartment comes down. The heavy plastic container swings into her seatmate, hangs by a nylon cord. The bus attendant hustles to help her, but the two women can barely hold the plastic above their heads. So the driver pulls over, the passengers too distracted to groan at their ever-increasing delay.
The serious-looking driver and a male volunteer wrangle the everything back into place. A few passengers clap when they are done, a few more when the bus moves again. As the compulsory safety video plays on screens throughout the rows, demonstrating the ease with which one can open and close their overhead compartment, the passengers explode in laughter. They take out their frustrations on the fictional bus attendant and her fake red fingernails.
A tall boy in seat 30 cautiously opens his compartment under the anticipating gaze of everyone around him. He unearths a pair of lunches. He and his girlfriend nibble away and flood the bus with the scent of oranges and ham. Passengers eye the storage space above their own heads.
The bus would be late, and their loved ones would be waiting, but there was less checking of clocks. There was a story to tell now, so everyone could ease back into their seats and prepare to tell it.
–Vienna to Budapest