The back of the bus

So I am sitting on this bus, a big city bus, bouncing along from one lonely and depressing street to another. And slowly my bus begins to fill up.

A Hispanic man, probably in his mid-thirties, sits down across from me and quickly becomes preoccupied with his smartphone. It’s just another day. And this is texting time for him, I guess. But what else is there to do on this city bus? We sort of acknowledge each other’s existence, but try to avoid making eye contact. You know how it is. Awkward.

He looks down and I look up and away – off into the distance. There is always more concrete coming. And more of this and that and the other thing. It never seems to end.

Longing for another place inspires many to change their own

After a few more blocks, I notice that my fellow traveller appears to look like I feel: tired and sad. Am I projecting my present feelings onto him? I don’t think so. There are lines around his eyes. We have this in common and many other things. And yet, he has a story to tell that I will never hear. And a life to live.

Two strangers on a big city bus.

Then, two English girls step inside and make their way to the back. They are both Caucasian and have shoulder-length hair. One is wearing dark sun glasses. Sitting down, they carry on a lively conversation and speak loud enough for everyone to hear. A little too loud. Sounds like they are good friends.

I’m not used to hearing English and almost feel guilty being able to understand what they are saying. Especially since they are talking about relationships and men and sex – right there on the bus. Mostly it’s about relationships gone bad, guys bothering them on Facebook, dates that didn’t work out, and other disappointments. The usually stuff.

Faithfulness is a foreign concept. As far as I can tell, the main point is to communicate that they are still desirable and available. It’s too bad that they struggle with their weight. Maybe, deep down, they feel like no one will ever really care. For them. Just as they are.

People continue to pour in as the bus plods along, and soon all the seats are taken.

A young girl of African descent is sitting next to me talking to her phone. I’m mean, really talking to her phone. She must have a FaceTime feature or something, although I’m not up on all these things. Once again, I can’t help but overhear the conversation. At least her side of the story.

She comes across as being happy and hopeful and confident. I hear about her plans to go back to school. Working at the restaurant will have to end then. Not enough time. She is thinking ahead. And I get the impression that she is careful with her money. She is able to communicate what she wants and has clear boundaries and goals. I am happy for her. Even though she is a stranger, I really am.

But there also seems to be an aching emptiness in her life. She wakes up and has a smoke. Goes to work and comes back home. Has another smoke and goes to bed. And that is about it. This happens over and over again. And for what purpose? Is there a purpose?

Is there more to life than this? seems to be the unspoken question. Later on, I wonder if she has ever read Ecclesiastes. Such an encouraging book in an odd sort of way.

The bus is moving faster now, and I am beginning to wish that this journey would end. I want to get off and get away and go home. To my true home. Yes, I mean heaven. It’s all broken here – in this town and in this life, in some way. It’s like this everywhere I go.

The next big city bus ride isn’t much better. The lady standing in line behind me had too much to drink and isn’t allowed to make the trip. This has happened before. And then, there’s the guy with the gun. Thankfully, they found it before he got on.

And so it goes. This time, I sit as close to the front as I can.

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