Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On The Bus

Last night in class we did a short story set on a city bus. It was a pretty good story, but I was surprised that so many of the students questioned why, or whether, the two protagonists would be on a bus. "Wouldn't they have wheels?" one person said. Another: "Maybe if you show they're still students or something..."

I ride the bus. Since I have not yet bought a car in Seattle, and am apprehensive about driving on these steep hills, I take the bus when I am alone and want to go somewhere I can't walk to. I see all sorts of people on the bus. Poor people and crazy people and young people, yes, but also older, well-dressed people who for whatever reason are not driving cars. And the bus, it turns out, is endlessly entertaining.

I have talked to little kids on a field trip, bouncing up and down with excitement. I have heard a murder being discussed between two women: "And they didn't know the body was in the apartment until Saturday, when the rest of us in the building started to smell it." I have observed people reading everything from Leo Tolstoy to Danielle Steele. Last night, returning from class, we had a crazy person, harmless variety. He was explaining to a stranger, who looked slightly stunned, "I am Kali. All reality is under my command because I am the only one who exists out of time. It's very hard."

I imagine it would be. All of reality! A microcosm of which can be found on the bus.


Brad R. Torgersen said...

Because Seattle is so car UN-friendly, I used to use the bus system all the time to get around. From 1998 to 2002 I dropped my truck off at the Northgate Park and Ride and took 41 into town and back. Eventually I switched to used 358, which was almost door to door from the town home my wife and I rented, to the steps of One Union Square where I worked. Then we moved to Tacoma, and it was local routes up and down Tacoma's hills, followed by either the Sounder to and from Seattle, or sometimes the Sound Transit express busses.

I had my fair share of unusual experiences on the bus system. Most of the time it was a pleasant ride, but every once in awhile a weirdo would climb onboard. This was especially true in the Capitol Hill area when I used to have to jump back and forth between work at First Hill and class at Seattle Central Community College.

Laurie said...

I live outside D.C. There are plenty of people who take the bus here because it's the only way to go!

When I lived and worked in Richmond, VA, I took the bus to work every day. When a woman came into our retail store and asked us how to get somewhere, we told her how to get there by bus. She was highly offended.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

I'm told (I don't remember) that when I was 3, I was on a Manhattan bus that pretty much crashed. Tiny Little Blues went flying, and split his tiny little head open.

Again, I'm told (still don't remember!) there wuz cop cars with flashing lights and an ambulance, and women screaming, "The poor baby!"...

The City gave me auld mither $200 for the accident.

Today, who knows?

But I'm sure I wouldn't be stealing shoelaces from passed-out drunks.

TheOFloinn said...

I'll see your busses and raise you a subway - another excellent place to observe H.urbanis. I started in school with the Philadelphia subway, worked up to the topologically more interesting NYC subways, the strange, isolated Newark subway, the Boston (where I met Charlie), the Washington Metro, the CTA in Chi-town; then more exotic locales like Vienna and Paris. In the latter case I was limited to visual observation, but had a Greco-Armenian from Turkey to help translate.

Yours was a story set on a bus; but surely ur-writers would appreciate the microcosmicism of it all, throwing random characters together.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

"Microcosmicism." That's lovely, TheOfolinn! Your own coinage?

TheOFloinn said...


"Microcosmetics" was also a possibility

Jamie said...

Microcosmetics: Make-up created by and for nanobots.