It was a little after five. This was a relief, even though life would’ve been much easier if my boss would let me leave at two. Then I would get home on time, and relax. I wouldn’t even use the extra three hours to go have fun. I would use it to avoid the ghastly traffic that starts at the expressway by 3:30 p.m. It was so unfortunate. Traffic on an expressway. You’d think the word ‘express’ would mean something.
To make things worse, five o’clock was rush hour. Every single worker—not the goody two shoes that adore over time—would be departing for their various homes as well. So imagine what the big BRT buses would look like. Packed, I tell ya. Packed like a can of sardines. I’m not a sardine. But life, and the rules of my workplace, have forced me to turn into one. So when the BRT buses come to my stop, everyone hops into it. At the same time. It’s sad because I mean they literally get on the bus at the same time, fighting to get seats. And when the bus is full, more people still hop unto the bus. Why, I don’t know. I guess maybe because all the other buses that come after are all full, so better to catch this full bus than that full bus.
It takes twenty minutes to get to my house, you’d think these people would be a little patient and catch the next one. But can you blame them? With traffic, it takes an hour plus –and sometimes even two—to get home. 2 hours on the road is the worst idea ever. And imagine having to stand in the bus for two hours. If you’re lucky, someone will get off the stop before yours, and you could take their seat. Unfortunately for me, I’m not a fighter. I’m not a hustler. I’m a young mami that likes to take her time and be nice to my elders. So I can’t push. Which means no seat for me. So what I do is I wait by the stop until I’m lucky enough to find a bus with spare seats. When I started the whole buscapade thing, I would see an empty bus driving up to my stop and still not get a seat, because I was slowww. But now, I’m smarter, faster and a tad bit stronger. So I rush, sometimes even run to the bus and procure a seat for my big tushy.
My strength and improvement over the past few months is not what is the highlight of today. As I was saying, it was a little after five. I had just arrived at my stop and waited for a bus with spare seats to drive by. Drive By by Train is a cool song, you should take a listen. And as expected, all the buses that came by were either full of people sitting and standing, or empty but not going my way. So I waited. I developed this habit of looking at people and faces, what car they were driving, and maybe what kind of conversation they were having. This not only helps me describe people for when I write, it also helps me notice more things.
And then I saw her. It couldn’t be. What was she doing, driving around here? I thought she was abroad? But I couldn’t have mistaken someone else for her, I’ve known her for more than four years and it definitely was her face. She had shades on, so I could only recognize her from her nose, lips and skin tone. She had one arm on the wheel and did not look anywhere but ahead of her. She was so calm and collected as she slowly drove past me, unaware I was staring at her up until their champagne colored car disappeared behind the bus that was parked near me. Her head was tilted up a little, her lips pink, makeup-less as usual yet so beautiful and her olive skin flawless.
I felt my heart sink. I had not felt sad in a while. The only emotions I normally feel are anger, disappointment, excitement or pure joy. And there I was, sad. I went to the same school with that girl, same class. One could say I did better when it came to class work, but she had all the cool friends, the looks, the charisma, and she was very funny. She never had any problems, and whenever she did she solved them in an instant. When I had pimples on every millimeter of my face, she had none. When I bragged about being taller than her, she caught on plus more in just a couple of years. When I sang the latest songs, she said she had them on her ipod. I didn’t even know how to use an ipod.
And there she was, cruising round town while I stood by the bus stop, pimples on both cheeks—I’m out of my acne treatment gel and I haven’t been paid yet—waiting for a bus convenient enough for me to enter. At least she didn’t see you, a voice in my head cheered. At least she didn’t see you run after the bus, the other voice said. If she had, and she had stopped, at least she would have known you were posh enough to pick certain buses.
No voice in my head could console me. Life was perfect for her, and I was just beginning my life as a “hustler.” She had a car, and I had my legs. I finally got a bus with spare seats, but it was only spare because no one wanted to get on that type of bus. It wasn’t a BRT, it was a dilapidated bus with ugly leather seats and dusty windows. Smoke came out from the front all the way to the back, making breathing difficult while in or even around the bus. It was more expensive than a BRT bus, by a little, but I didn’t care. My tushy needed comfort and my friend had a far greater life than mine…