The Stories on the Bus Go Round and Round
by OWAIN GLYN EVANS
Everybody uses the bus. If you live in a city like Cardiff then you can’t avoid it; for university, work, or a night out, you will need the bus at some point. Which is why, if you’re a writer, you should pick up a notepad and go for a ride. Nowhere else in all of society is there such a collision of characters, stories, motives, experiences, and humanity, as there is on the bus. Sit on a congested bus, listen, and you won’t need television again.
“Stop crying, and listen!” a tattooed sixteen-year-old with a passion for all-grey attire once commanded into his phone from a seat behind me. “Do you want me to tell your sister that you’re preggerz or what?” I squeezed the leg of my girlfriend, to share with her my astonished revulsion. He couldn’t have been more Cardiff. His thick, flat-tongued accent burrowed uncomfortably into my ears. A chunky girl dressed synthetically, in jest of the situation, threw questions at the boy in between sniggers. He piercingly squeaked orders and queries into his mobile whilst all others on the bus mentally debated the suitability for such a conversation on the back seat of a bus. Judgement of the situation was passed from passenger to passenger, through the rolling of an eye, or the furling of a brow. The conversation continued for twenty minutes, “No, it’s your fault, but I’ll have to deal with it, again! What’s wrong with you?” Where is Jeremy Kyle when you need him?
There’s the man with the box, a big box. Nearly every other day, the moustached man steps onto the bus alongside me and stands near the front, holding onto his box all-too-suspiciously. With the box in his grasp, the man with the box waits nervously under his hat and behind his vari-focals, until his stop comes up. The man with the box presses the button to let the driver know, releasing his clutch on that box for a second only. The man with the box leaves the bus behind, a vessel full of people wondering, What was in that box? He walks down the road, unknowing of the intrigue he induced.
Drunks are the best and worst. It starts with a louder-than-normal, aggressive clearing of the throat from behind you, or the inhalation of a bittersweet smell of stale alcohol. Then, you know. Turning to look leaves you open to attack. After all, what if you turn and make sudden eye contact with the being. What are you looking at? or What’s your problem, mate? the imagined response. The bus nears a stop and a noisy shuffle from behind must mean that he’s getting off. The erratic swerve of the bus flings a person from behind you onto the floor. It’s him. It must hurt, but what can you do? Every passenger is caught in a lapse, waiting for another to step in. Thankfully, the Drunk steps up but his abrupt rise has left him unbalanced and he falls back, his flailing arms have met your friends face. You pray for it to end. Eventually, the man stands and removes his greasy self from the vehicle.
Nevertheless, have you ever been the only person on the last bus home? It’s a strange feeling. You will never feel more alone. It’s just you, the driver and his anonymous nod to your bus pass. You could be heading back from the library after some late night revision, or returning home from your girlfriends house on the last bus. Whatever the reason, being alone on the bus is the most surreal experience of everyday life; for that fifteen minute bus journey you are the only living thing in the world. You sit in silence, reflecting over the day the bus must have seen. Newspapers and tickets lay scattered and forgotten, relics of the closing day. The bus passes smoothly through the streets that were full hours before, before you alert the driver of your approaching stop. The bus slows and you pass gracefully through the vacant vehicle. The doors open and you step out into the bare street, enveloped by the emptiness. The bus drives away, a haze of history, leaving behind the day that it will never see again.