I frequently share details of my bus commute and I almost did so this morning. Considering that this was my first day back and that I’m still prone to the occasional hacking cough, I had a hard time jump-starting the ole brain so any attempt at that kind of writing would likely have been futile. Hours later, here goes …
The back door was pulled from my hand as if someone had run up the driveway, grabbed hold of the outer handle and pulled with every fiber of their being. It stuttered halfway and then slammed hard all the way open. Luckily, nothing was sprung, and I was able to push it closed, but not without effort.
Wind gusting over 50 mph will do that.
It was cold, brutally windy, but dry so far. Even so, I gave myself lots of time to deal with frozen car doors, icy roads or (worst case scenario) stalled engines. Mercifully, I was troubled with none of these. In fact, the ride in to the bus station was totally uneventful.
As I neared the station though, I noted the time on the clocktower: 6:48. I duly noted the bus that was beginning to snake its way out of the maze of the depot lot and onto the roadway. I can make it, I thought, and ran like hell. I made it just as the bus turned the corner.
The drivers technically don’t have to stop there, but they usually do, as a kindness to late commuters. Technically, I wasn’t late. I was early. (This was the bus before my bus.) Clearly, this driver didn’t care. He glowered at me. Glowered. He grunted his disapproval as I flashed my pass.
There were a few regulars on board, but since I rarely ride at this time, there were just as many people I didn’t recognize. One was a girl of an undeterminable age, she was so bundled up against the cold. All you could see were her tiny brown eyes peering through small square frames.
Another was a man who appeared to be around 70 a pile of bags covering his feet and the seat beside him, a cane resting against one leg. He carried on a conversation with himself the entire way across the river, stopping only occasionally for oxygen.
But the most interesting of these was a young, heavy set, multi-racial woman of roughly 25-30 with one of the most interesting hair-dos I’ve seen in a while. In the back, it was dreadlocks, short ones, but dreadlocks just the same. Both sides were teased out and just generally mussed. But it was the top that was the showstopper: a carefully crafted attempt at teasing all of the hair in the center of her head – save a few inches up front for flat bangs across her forehead – into a Mohawk!
Her head was to hair-dos what rides are to an amusement park. Never in my life have I seen so many different styles packed onto one head. She was like one of those Barbie doll beauty shop heads come to life. The product of a 5-year-old girl’s venture into cosmetology – both amusing and scary at the same time.
Unlike the rest of us, who were occasionally chilled by the driver’s penchant for leaving a door ajar long after a passenger had boarded or exited the bus, she did not move. She sat stone still, except for the thumb of her right hand which was constantly fiddling with the MP3 player screen in front of her face. No matter how many times I glanced in her direction during the next 20 or so minutes, her gaze remained fixed on that screen. She was still in that same pose when the bus trundled up to my stop.
For all I know, she’s still there now.