29 August, 2008

Gustav on the horizon

Hurricane Gustav may come this way, and those who lived through Katrina have the jitters. Colleagues at the university have told me that even though Hattiesburg is ~70 miles from the coast, Katrina's winds were 100 mph even here. Water wasn't safe to drink for nearly a week in the city; in the suburbs it was worse. Likewise electricity was out, so there was no air conditioning to mitigate the heat and humidity that settled in Katrina's wake. Trees were down everywhere, including the interstates, making it nearly impossible for supply trucks to pass through.—And again, that's here in Hattiesburg. You can imagine that many people are praying fervently that Gustav will pass elsewhere, else not grow too strong.

This morning's bus chatter was primarily about Hurricane Gustav. I'll add some other comments that I found amusing. I'll try to spell the words the way they sounded, rather than following proper rules of spelling. I decided to write "I" properly, but it sounds somewhere between a northern "I" and an "Ah".

Hep me out, Jesus.
He is, Babra. Today's Friday!

People think a hurrican's somethin' bad. I don't. A hurrican's a blessin'. …People on the coast, they see a hurrican as a vacation. …They be sayin', Yeah we gettin' our paychecks early! (This rider claimed to have grown up on the coast.)

(The bus driver, who in the evenings delivers pizza:) Every hotel hee' (here) been booked. …Plus, first checks come out taday. So you know I'm gonna be out there tonight. (At first I thought she meant that the hotels were booked because of Gustav; this conversation was in the temporal vicinity of a remark on mandatory evacuations from New Orleans. I learned in the afternoon however that the reservations are for tomorrow's college football game.)

My daughter belongs in Mississippi Mental Health. (guffaws of laughter) She do! That girl is crazy. This was followed by more sentiments that the man's listeners agreed with, but I can't repeat them.

The buses in Germantown, MD and Raleigh, NC were never like this. Few riders talked with others; few even recognized or knew each other. Riders usually sat quietly.—No, that's not true. At night, the buses in Raleigh carried a couple of garrulous gentlemen. Even I made a habit of talking with them, and antisocial folk such as myself don't loosen our tongues easily. (A habit of reading on the bus contributes to this public aloofness.)

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