On Riding the Bus

Bus windows. Made you think about life since 1956.

I ride the bus. In the past I have only rode the bus in foreign countries. Technically, I am in a foreign country. It’s becoming less & less foreign though, but the view from the bus window brings back floods of memories from my travels. I quickly fall back into the devolping countries I have had the privilege of seeing, most from a seat on a bus. The smells are there in my nose, the buildings and streets somehow bring me back to Ukraine and China and Mexico and Fiji and the bumpy feel lulls me into past moments I adore.

Life is different from inside the bus. You have no control of when you leave or arrive, it’s cold waiting and cold once you are inside. I am in denial of the winter weather and still insist on wearing summery clothes, but am only able to get away with that by blasting the heater in my car. Without heat on the bus I’m forced to wear jackets. The demographic of the bus users is high in elderly people, full of those from a lower socioeconomic background, and a smattering of business people doing their part for the environment.

I sit for ten minutes wondering their stories, curious if their facial expression really matches their mood and thankful I once again can see the city I live in from a new vantage point. It’s easy for me to forget there are plenty of people in my city that must ride the bus, many that count their coins to afford to travel to and from work or rely on the bus as their only mode of transportation. All of these people are more schooled and clever than me at bus riding. I have forgot many times to tell the driver where I’m heading and have this awkward silence with him staring at me as if he asked a question that he did not ask. I finally figure out that he’s asking without talking, where I’m headed? I have got off the bus at the wrong stop quite a few times and didn’t even know how to get a bus pass.

I’m beginning to master this bus thing, but I love that something as simple as a bus ride can remind me that there are so many types of people in the world with so many different levels of income. Rarely do we talk to each other on the bus yet we are a part of this common experience. The silence at the bus stop kills me and makes me laugh at the same time. Some moments I’m desperate to break it and other moments I’m glad for the quiet. Individuals all heading to the same destination but with no connection other than a mode of transport. It intrigued me in foreign countries and still does here. Riding the bus is a good discipline for my soul, a reminder about humanity. It’s easy to let people pass by in a blur, but while on the bus I’m forced to notice my city and my internal reactions, judgements and compassions are highlighted. They are all mixed in there and truth be told the majority of the people on the bus ride with me make more than I do each week. Solemn reminders that are good for the soul.

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