A man in a postal uniform takes this bus daily, and boards at the same stop. He got on just after I did, and sat a couple of benches behind me. I was sitting right up front, in the seats that run parallel to the bus sides -- since I was only riding for a quarter mile -- next to a pretty woman in a suit and scarf. She was reading a newspaper.
From his seat, the post office worker said to her, "Hey there, paper-reading lady!"
She lifted her head from her paper, and gave him a Look. Now, he had delivered his words in a jovial, friendly voice, like a man speaking to an old friend. She gave him the sort of Look one generally reserves for leering men saying things like "Wha's yo' price, ho?" "Excuse me?" she said, in a tone aimed to chill bonfires.
"I said, 'Hey there, paper-reading lady!'" He was still perfectly jovial and pleasant.
"I believe this is America."
"I mean, the United States." She stretched out "united" into "uuu-nighted" for further empasis.
"As long as I've bought this paper, I'm entitled to read it wherever I want. On the bus, on the street, in a restaurant, in the bathroom, wherever I want."
As she was speaking, I was covering my mouth to conceal the huge grin growing on my face. Across from me, another woman was also trying not to smile too widely, while a seat further back, I could see a woman whose grin stretched from ear to ear.
The paper-reading lady rustled her paper in irritation. "The nerve of some people," she said, to no one in particular.
"Oh, absolutely," said the woman across from us, smiling. She held out her umbrella like one proffering a weapon. "Would you like to teach him a lesson?"
The man said, half-laughing, "Careful, there! She might do it!"
But the paper-reading lady had gone back to her paper. I pulled the cord for my stop. As I was stepping off, I heard the postal worker behind me say to her, "And how are you this morning?" in the same cheerful, unperturbed manner he'd worn this whole conversation. I didn't get to catch her response.
But, just based on her manner, I'd have to say "irritable."