Now that I have a car, I can avoid one of my least favorite activities: waiting at bus stops. Let me clarify and make a distinction here: DC had good busing (terrific metro trains and commuter trains too). When you are in the most dense parts of DC, many people of all ages and professions and clothing designs are taking buses, and really, nobody notices any one person for very long. But as you get further out of town and into the suburbs, people mostly drive cars, and if you’re standing next to the road under a sign with a picture of a bus on it, people tend to stare at you as they speed by. They can't stare at you for long, of course. They have to look back at the road at some point. But when one driver after another, or one car load after another stares at you like that, it becomes one long stare -- by a whole county. Standing at those ‘less urban’ bus stops, I would get little panic attacks or anxiety or super heated embarrassment or something like that. It’s like standing on a stage. Those suburban roads have just as much automobile traffic during rush hour as any urban road. Sitting or standing at a bus stop fifteen twenty thirty minutes - however long - maybe I had just missed a bus and didn’t realize it - so I'm standing there forever, or traffic was very heavy and the bus was delayed - and I'm there forever - sitting there, standing there, pacing there for that long next to a very very busy road is unnerving. It shouldn’t matter, but it was one of my weird quirks. I’m self conscious. All these eyes on me freak me out. I get overly self conscious. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what to do about it. It is just a special and unique ingredient in my particular brand of paranoia.

I remember one night when I lived back in Norfolk, Virginia. I was frequently broke as hell around that time. My car had just died or something, so it was buses for me. It was pretty cold around the time. In my commute I had to take three different buses to get home. It took two and half hours, sometimes three. At one bus stop, I had to wait half an hour for the next bus. There’s no other way to describe it: That shit sucked. Anyway - that particular night, I was waiting for my last bus, my half hour wait for that last leg of the trip home. It had been a busy day at the particular shit job I had - a call center. Well, I was pretty miserable, and I jammed my hands way into my pockets to warm them. One pocket had a hole in it and my fingers poked through into the lining of my jacket. I felt something there in the lining. I grabbed it and pulled it out. It was a half a joint. I said fu u uck yeah. I walked into the middle of the parking lot next to the bus stop and smoked it. It was dark and nobody was around. I smoked it down until it almost burned my finger tips, and then I went back to the bus stop and sat down and waited for the bus, a little less miserably.

I can’t imagine waiting on a bus down here in Florida - in the middle of the day - in 100 degree, highly humid heat with cars crawling by emitting hot exhaust fumes. I feel so sorry for people sitting there, and a lot of the time it’s elderly people or moms with little kids or babies. It’s rough.

As I drive by people walking next to the road or waiting at bus stops, I wonder if they are going through the same mental process as I went through, ignoring all the other life problems and pondering the same thing I always did: “Are all the people in these cars staring at me?”

1 comment:

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