Traffic lights and flickering stop signs

As someone I knew once wrote, « bus people and subway people were of a different breed ». And that was true. Bus people rhymed with pigeons, smoke, foreign languages, sunrises and sunsets, traffic lights and flickering stop signs. You could never know what to expect from the bus before leaving the house. I guess that applied to subway too, but I never took the subway during commute hours.

Spending approximately 2h commuting per day, I learned to appreciate the beauty in it. I couldn’t simply stop at complaining about the smell, the crowd and the lateness. So I found a loophole. Used this time to discover new music and observe people, to empty my mind and focus on the little things. There was nothing like the sun rising behind the buildings in a pink and cloudy sky, the bus empty, soft music playing in my ears. It was almost a religious experience.

There were also those late rides, when I had studied all day and took extra time after my classes to work on something or teach the first year students. Those rides when the night had already settled on the city, and the word was beginning to finally quiet down. Those rides where the bus was a moving capsule of light in the dark streets, and the stop-sign flickered, at once eerie and peaceful.

And then there were the moments in between, the waiting at the bus stop while your breath formed tiny clouds of fog, the tree leaves projecting large, moving shadows on the building walls.

People took the bus, and I seemed to recognize more and more of them as time went by.

You had the young man in the red hat, always listening to music and sitting in the very back, impulsively crossing the road. The blonde lady with her stroller and her baby. The other student from the school next to mine who never seemed to share the same schedule as mine but somehow ended up in my bus. The kids from my old high school. The small man in a hoodie. The lady who hopped off the bus at the hospital stop suggesting she was a researcher, but definitely looked like a ballerina with her hair up and her straight back (not that it was incompatible though). And the families, the fathers, the workers and students, the tourists and friends, the grandparents and children that I only saw once and never again.

So much life was happening inside the bus.



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