Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bus Stop Musings

A lot of my time is spent waiting. I wait for elevators, for seats in restaurants, for my students papers to appear in my inbox so I can grade them. Probably most of my waiting time is taken up by waiting for buses.

In the mornings when I'm rushing off to work, I usually don't wait long. I take the 36X minibus to get to my work in Causeway Bay, and I've been amazed at how few times I've had to wait for it to arrive. Countless times I've emerged from the alley between our apartment building and the bus stop to see it sitting at the stop or just pulling away. The nice thing about minibuses is that they will actually pick you up even if you're not at the stop. Just stick out your arm, pointing politely at the ground of course, and it will screech to a stop and let you on. Very nice.

The other end is another story. After I get off work, I walk the couple of blocks to the 36X stop and stand dutifully next to the pole. There I will stand. And stand. And stand.


In reality, it's usually around twenty minutes. But twenty minutes do seem like a long time when you've been working for hours, you haven't eaten since early that morning, and you have a load of bricks (books?) hanging from your shoulder.

It is a good people watching opportunity, though, and for that I'm grateful. I've always been amazed by people. I love to notice the droopy purple pants, the blonde-tipped mullet, the fighting couple, the child sucking blissfully on its chocolate ice-cream cone. I try to imagine why the couple is fighting, where the old man is going with his unhurried shuffle, why the bird-like lady in a silk dress looks so haunted. She is gone; her wide black eyes remain.

I think I've identified the dress code of a Chinese artist. I've noticed this uniform several times around town, but now I'm more certain of it. A man of an unidentified age began waiting at the stop with the rest of us, and he was soon joined by another. Both wore baggy, low-slung cargo pants that were made from a soft colorful material. One wore purple while the other donned pink. They're shirts were also soft, flimsy v-necks, not unlike those of American indie-kids. Both wore chunky black glasses, hats and long, bunned hair. One wore a Irish golf cap that I'd seen on many other artsy gents. The other wore a white, straw fedora with a black band. Both of them scuffed identical black flip-flops while talking and fiddling with artsy looking magazines. They afforded me at least five minutes of enjoyable observation.

Another fun subject is the rolling sales-booth man. He looks to be about sixty or so, but it's always hard for me to tell the age of Asians. He has spiking gray hair and generally wears blue t-shirt and shorts and flip-flops. When I first saw him rolling his cart past me, I mistakened him for the trash man. After further examination, I realized that, instead of bags of empty frappeccino cups and slimy noodles, his cart was full of cheap wallets, tinny metal necklaces, and kitty-cat head-bands. He was looking for a place to set up, but his usual sidewalk spot was already taken. He rolled from one side of the street to the other, wandering aimlessly in front of minibuses and taxis, blissfully ignoring the honks and squealing breaks. I never saw if he found a spot, but I hope he did before he got killed.

I hear another honk, and there's my minibus, careening up to the curb. I peer inside and see that the polo-shirt man is driving. It's because of him that I started wearing a seat-belt. I sigh, and climb inside. With Mr. Polo at the wheel, the only thinking that I'll engage in is the planning of my funeral. I manage to buckle my seatbelt just as the minibus roars away from the stop. I brace myself.

Open casket or not?


  1. Did you write this while you were waiting for something? Love the tone shift part-way through when you make us walk through the waiting with you. Very nice!

  2. your stories are always so fun. I also find it very difficult to tell the age of most asians. Oddly enough, or maybe not so odd, they also have the same trouble telling our ages.

  3. Thanks guys! And Kendra, I composed it in my head while I was waiting and typed it up when I got home.


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