Riding the Bus: A Love Story

Fung Wah Bus Van Hool C2045 coach on a stopove...

March 30, 2012, Boston, MA

I sit on the floor, the cold from the rust-colored tile seeping through my pants. There are seats next to me, but I want to try to get a front seat on the bus, so I sit in line. The Chinese bus (Fung Woh) just loaded, so I hear the chatter of Chinese around me. I’m watching people, trying to be subtle about it. I don’t really have to be subtle though, as most people protect themselves with various technological devices. I bet that travelling by bus in the past was friendlier, as people asked questions and discussed the adventure ahead, rather than hiding behind mini screens.

Flashback, A Peter Pan Bus, Sometime in 1990

I remember falling in love, briefly, with a man on a bus. I was taking the bus home from college, either just before or just after I graduated. I got into a discussion with this cute black guy who was heading home from college as well. We talked the whole ride: about our times at schools 20 minutes from each other, about our fears as both of us graduated, about life and dreams and where we were heading from there. My future was still unknown. I can’t recall what his was, maybe moving to New York or something. “I wish we had met earlier,” he said. “Me too.” I surprised myself with that reply as I was perennially shy with guys. He got off the bus before my stop, and we never saw each other again. These were the days before everyone had cell phones, e-mail addresses and Facebook. For people in transition, contact was more challenging. I believe we exchanged phone numbers, but his life was moving forward quickly. A flame for a moment that blew out with a puff of smoke.

March 30, 2012, Boston, MA

Now the line is silent. Nobody speaks, not even the people travelling together. There are a few hushed conversations, and a few less-hushed cell phone conversations. Most of the noise comes from buses beeping, honking, moving, backing up. Nobody really makes eye contact even. I try to look up and be friendly, open–but that is not the norm nowadays. That seems like such a sad loss. The Fung Wah bus backs out and moves away, opening the space for my Megabus to move in. It’s still early though, so there is nothing to do but wait.

Waiting for the bus home in NYC.

I DIDN’T Hear it On the Bus

Okay, I admit it,  I stole from another blogger. The title is a take of the fabulous series over at Young American Wisdom called “I Heard it on the Bus” .

I braved the bus today, chaperoning four third grade classes on a field trip to the Pequot Museum about 1 1/2 hours away. The museum was fascinating, including a village set with figures to learn all about Native American life. I was only allowed to take pictures in the Gathering Place, but here are a few:

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I did hear a few interesting tidbits, like the boy who told me that his great-great-great-great grandfather is still alive and kicking at something like 16o + years old, or the girl who told me that her great-great grandfather was on the Mayflower. (I think they need to review the concept of “great ancestors”).

But, I couldn’t help reflecting on what I didn’t hear. Now, I’m not claiming all the bus rides of my youth were pleasure experiences, but I remember one thing I loved. Whenever we were on the bus for any length of time we sang. The whole bus. We sang childish songs. We sang favorite songs. We sang “Three cheers for the bus driver” (especially on field trips).

This bus had no music.

Well, there was the girl sitting behind me who hummed Christmas Carols through vibrating lips.  And there was one brief chorus of Adele’s “Someone Like You” toward the end of the trip when the bus driver turned on the radio. (So appropriate for third graders who face heartbreak on a daily basis). No songs with silly and sometimes naughty lyrics. Nobody leading a chorus of some call and response ditty.

The other thing I didn’t hear was a group thank you for the bus driver. One of the teachers reminded the students to thank him on the way out, but there was no mass calling out. For that matter, I didn’t hear any teacher try to encourage the bus to be a community and represent the school with pride.

Maybe my memories of bus rides past are merely figments of my imagination, but I really miss hearing the music of young voices enjoying life together on the bus.

Does anyone else have good memories of bus rides past?

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