As I glanced at the empty seat next to me on the luxury coach and then gazed out the window, I knew without a doubt that the man exiting the hotel was going to be my seatmate. The first thing I noticed was his t-shirt, which advertised sheep manure. A minute later, he slid into the seat next to me and introduced himself in a thick southern drawl.
He was chatty. I was not. I had, in fact, wanted to peacefully contemplate the Bavarian landscape out the window as the bus rolled toward Munich. Our destination was Oktoberfest, not one of my bucket list items. But my two traveling companions – who sat together in the row in front of me – decided rather last minute that they wanted to take this tour. The hotel happened to have exactly three tickets left. It was a sign that we had to go.
Hey, when in Bavaria during Oktoberfest…
I don’t remember much of what my seatmate said that day, other than his t-shirt was his talisman against becoming a sloppy drunk. When he could no longer say “sheep shit shirt” without slurring, that was his cue to stop drinking.
In the row ahead of me, I heard snickering.
The rest of the journey is a bit of a blur. He rambled on and on, and it seemed endless.
Finally, we arrived! Oktoberfest! Despite my reluctance to go, I felt ecstatic to be there.
Our bus driver gave us a stern warning about returning to the bus throwing up drunk. There would be consequences, he said. On that charming note, we disembarked, everyone going their separate ways.
Several hours later, exhausted and sunburned, we were back on the bus. It had been a terrible day. Excessive heat, an endless parade, and not one seat to be found in any of the beer tents. This was Oktoberfest, and not one of our trio had a beer. We were all unimpressed with the experience.
Little by little, everyone returned to the bus. Everyone, that is, except Sheep Shit Shirt guy. I said a silent prayer, hoping he got lost and we would leave him behind.
Finally, he arrived. Staggering drunk. Oh, no.
He joked that he had enough beer for both of us, then promptly dozed off.
He suddenly sat bolt upright, leapt out of his seat, and ran off the bus to vomit.
Moments later, he returned with a plastic bag that the driver gave him, assuring me that he was done. I was neither comforted nor convinced by this assessment.
The driver, satisfied that everyone was accounted for, began the drive back to Garmisch. I curled up against the window, trying to make myself smaller and create as much distance between us as possible. Sheep Shit Shirt man fell asleep. His head lolled onto my shoulder.
Worst trip ever. I hated Oktoberfest. I hated everything.
As I succumbed to misery, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. A teenage girl sitting behind me told me that she made room for me in the back of the bus.
Hallelujah! Sweet rescue!