I needed a little writing spark – I have a pile of ideas in my head and no motivation to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).  So last week I decided to just write.  Didn’t matter if it was good, didn’t matter what I’d be writing about, I just needed to do it.

11 Bus to Boston
I can’t watch you people any more.

I grabbed my Moleskine as I left the apartment for work, I tucked my Facebook-branded pen into my pocket (even though it’s blue, and I think blue ink is the work of the devil), and I set out on my daily journey downtown.  The following are profiles of the people I encountered on my daily commute, as observed by yours truly.

The Driver

His pull-overs had always been crisp.  Passengers waiting – he placed the entrance at their convenience every time.  Today was not his day.

The stop sign had always been a friend and a guide for him, as was its intent.  How abruptly it became an obstacle, as the driver pulled up a foot too long at the corner.  The door opened at the perfect spot for the stop sign to step on. It didn’t.

Slouched across the steering wheel as the passengers were swept aboard by the soft winter chill, he was ready for this route and this day to be over.  7:50am isn’t too early for regret.

The next few stops came and went without a hitch, but the Dorch stop was a whole different beast.  The first prospect stepped out from the curb to tell the driver he’d be the first one on.  The driver declined.  Another, waiting patiently on the curb, was passed over as well, as if the door was picking the next leader of the Lost Boys.  But the driver didn’t flat out reject them. He teased. Slow down, angle slightly parallel to the sidewalk, push the breaks within a millimeter of stopping.  Then hit the gas again.

We stopped for the third one. Not because he was special – you couldn’t pick him out in a crowd of this town’s gentlemen, with his pea coat, checked black and gray, his glistening silver watch, coffee in hand (iced, of course, it’s all the way up to 40 degrees today), a gingham shirt peeking out from under his coat. They could have wheeled him straight from the end of the townie assembly line to the bus stop for all we knew.  But he was the chosen one. To the driver, at least.

A Friend to Darkness

She’s not usually here.  I don’t know any of them, but I know I don’t know her. Her head’s glued to her tablet; she wouldn’t notice if I was her doppelganger standing here, two feet apart.

A black luxury car with tinted windows pulls up to the intersection as we await our ride.  It stops no longer than any other car pretends to.  Yet in that barely existent moment, she looks up from her life-sucking device and not only notices its driver, but does so quickly enough to identify them and wave.  I couldn’t even see a body in the car. My vision is fine.

She turns back to her tablet to read her book…no, Facebook.  Just a quick perusal, then back in the bag the tablet goes. The bus is about to arrive, after all. False alarm…any remotely squeaky break that approaches the corner pulls the strings attached to all the oncoming passengers’ heads and pries them from their phones, books and other distractions from reality. It’s bus law.

With no bus and no means of entertainment, back out comes the tablet…

Professional Clown

The bus isn’t even half full, but he stops and stands in the middle.  You know who that’s not going to be convenient for, guy? Everyone who’s about to come on the bus and doesn’t know whether to sneak by you or awkwardly stand in front of you because communication with strangers is basically outlawed.  The bus driver probably won’t like it either – she’ll yell when people don’t move back. The other passengers already on the bus won’t like being delayed, even though most of them are in no rush to transport their minds back into work-mode.

The next crop of cattle trudges onto the bus, and he slides into the nook by the rear door – thank God.  He was probably planning that all along, but judging bus people is what gets me going in the morning. Ah, I see now.  He’s wearing sneakers with his pinstriped garb.  He is in a rush.  We stop for another batch of drones, and he thinks this is the opportune time to check for something in his bag.

He’s sending all kinds of mixed signals about his bus expertise. Standing by the rear door if you need a quick exit from a crowded bus is a pro move. But opening your bag on a moving vehicle where the driver can’t see you? That’s a clown move.

If he forgot something, he certainly didn’t need it.  The sneakers, the bag shuffling, the vital early exit option – he’s a spaz and a half, but he doesn’t know it yet.

He gripped the pole to regain his balance. Just one hand – he’s a pro, remember?  He was gripped too tight – I could see his white knuckles from fifteen feet away. That’s how you get topplers – people rely too heavily on one means of balance, and if that fails them it means one of the res t of us has a loveless stranger hug heading our way. Loose grip, multiple points of balance – anything that reinforces stability or flexibility. That’s all we ask.

He stayed on the bus for the duration – head down, phone out, just like the rest of them. He didn’t topple once.