In an effort to practice writing for writing’s sake, I am trying something a little new. The Daily Post has issued an intriguing challenge that I must accept. We shall see where it takes me.
Many people I know disparage public transit. They say it is dirty and inconvenient. Unhealthy people clog up buses and trains, they believe. It is unsafe.
Riding the bus is my favourite part of a weekday morning. It is my chance to be quiet – to be alone. In a crowd it is easier to disappear. Bending over my book, I am one of numerous strangers. No one knows my name or where I am headed. Even better, no one cares.
While my brain soaks in the words on the page, smatterings of conversation skip about me and are impossible to ignore. A young student bemoans an essay; another woman makes sarcastic jokes about a former boss. Much of what I hear against my will is simple background. It is forgotten the moment my foot meets pavement. The bus, however, can also be a source of profundity. The distraction from my reading is not always unwelcome.
I will never forget the booming Russian, singing folk songs during – another – train breakdown on a bitter night. Or the unknown child who climbed into the seat next to me and read aloud from her picture book. Or the woman who stepped on the bus and declared how silly all the passengers looked with their eyes stuck to their phones. I remember looking up, feeling guilty, and then returning to the screen.
The bus may be cold and never on time. It may be smelly and dark and my skin may crawl as I attempt to avoid unwanted attention. Public transit is not the easiest way to get around the city, I am the first to agree. But it is an in-between time, a buffer between my life and my work. The shorter my commute, the more precious it becomes.