I was living down south, in the land of my birth, when I decided to attend an anarcha-feminist gathering in Wisconsin. No one I knew would be there, so I would have a comfort zone expanding experience among strangers.
I didn’t have a car, and my job made my travel time limited. I decided to fly to Chicago, then take the Greyhound to a small Wisconsin town where I’d be picked up in a car and driven to the women’s land where the gathering would be held. I’d probably be the only woman flying to the anarcha-feminist gathering, but I decided to do it because I had the money but not the time.
The flight to Chicago was uneventful. From the airport, I took public transportation to the tiny Greyhound station which I think was downtown. I got on the ‘Hound at the appointed time, and we took off to Wisconsin.
The bus was full. At first everyone was quiet, but as time passed, a few people started talking to their seatmates or the folks across the aisle. I sat quietly and read a book.
As more time passed, passengers started getting restless. I could feel the shift in the energy as people started shifting their bodies.
When are we stopping? someone called up to the driver.
I need a smoke, someone else hollered to the front. The other smokers chimed in with agreement.
The bus driver named a town and said we weren’t stopping until then. The people who knew how far we were from that town groaned.
Knowing how far we were from cigarettes and food did nothing to soothe anyone’s agitation. If anything, people seemed more on edge.
We were on that bus for a long time. I know it’s hard for a smoker when the body says it’s time for a cigarette and s/he can’t have one, but everyone on the bus seemed to be growing increasingly disgruntled.
Then the women in front of me pulled out the fried chicken.
One of the women was young, early 20s probably, and the other was a senior citizen, so I pegged them as grandmother and granddaughter. These women obviously knew the ropes of long distance bus travel because they were prepared to provide for themselves if the bus went a long way without a stop.
The hungry travelers who were waiting for a stop at a restaurant or a truck stop or a convenience store were not happy with the aroma of chicken wafting through the bus. The rumbling of the passengers increased. Those women were braver than I was; I would have never risked my fried chicken with that crowd.
Girl, give me some that chicken! the man across the aisle demanded. I thought he might be ready to start what the future would know as The Great Greyhound Fried Chicken Riot.
The people in the nearby seats held their collective breath. Would the women share their chicken?
This is not a loaves and fishes sort of story. No miracle occurred. The fried chicken was not multiplied to feed everyone on that bus. The women did share even one piece.
I wish I could remember what sassy words the young woman snapped at the man, but they shut him up and slumped him down in his seat while everyone who heard the words laughed.
The women ate their chicken while the rest of us waited for the driver to get us to a place where we could eat too.