In rainy weather the bus is crowded. Fair-weather bike riders and those who would otherwise walk join the ranks of the regular transit riders, filling seats and turning bus rides into standing room only events.
One blustery winter day I boarded my regular bus, crowded with rain soaked riders. The wet jackets and so many passengers made for a steamy environment, the windows clouded over and the bus was warmer than usual.
Soon I started to notice an odor – the unmistakable scent of cat pee.
I did a quick survey of the riders to see if I could figure out who the offending rider was. Which one among us stank of urine?
This was my regular bus and most of those on board were, like me, daily commuters taking the bus in to work. I searched the isles wondering who it might be.
As the bus continued on more people boarded, the bus heated up and the smell was more pronounced.
I could not imagine who was walking around stinking of pee. I looked for a stranger, certain that some unknown rider was responsible for this offense. Before I could discover the stinker the bus arrived at my stop and I made my way to work.
Soon enough I noticed the offending odor again. This time, I thought, I am going to figure out who it is. I searched the crowd for a familiar face, looking for someone who had been on the bus in the morning.
Each person I suspected – the old man who always looked a bit shabby, the teen who didn’t appear to ever wash his clothes, the woman in a cat sweater and carrying bag of yarn – eventually got off at their stop, yet the odor persisted.
And as the bus neared my stop I suddenly realized that I was the only person still riding who had been on both the morning and evening bus.
I was the one who smelled of cat pee.