People Watching-An October Special
Everyone has too much going on
Busses have been in major cities across North America since the early twentieth century. It was a form of transport that ensured the customer with a safe ride without having to worry about the ins and outs of traffic. Present day busses manage to hold over forty passengers comfortably at any time. A cripple could sit next to a three hundred pound middle aged mother with a glandular problem and feel at ease knowing their rite of passage is taken care of. Public transport is for the people.
Brian Lewis often found himself ‘people watching’ while quenching his A to B time. It was a personal game where he viewed the lives and actions of his fellow travellers. The tiny tells and habits that people have always seemed to creep out, especially when attempting to ignore the distance you are crossing.
It was a guilty pleasure for Brian. He spent a lot of time using public transport. The wonders and excitement of meeting people had long since vanished for him. Now a day it seemed to be more of a watching game.
Children, typically between the ages crawler to iPod age, always seemed to find excitement in bus rides. Their parents or watchers also added to the show, some constantly reprimanding their children in hopes to teach etiquette, others having given up or held lack of care in the happenings of their over active child. The sharing passengers were mere obstacles to these people’s day.
Next was the general public. That was what Brian had taken to calling the rest of the mix, Brian included. The general public consisted of various ages, handicaps and social groups. It was somehow equally intriguing to the ‘battle’ of young minds fighting their watchers.
Today was a good pallet of rider variety. It was mid-morning, most travellers still had the early morning ‘I’m not ready for this’ look to them. A few, sitting closer to the driver, held a natural pep that tired people envied in all situations. The yahoo’s at the front of the bus were alive and alert, far before many had managed to finish their second cup of coffee. It seemed close to criminal to a poor early riser.
Brian sat in his usual area of the bus, three seats from the back door. Close enough to catch the heater but far enough so the cold air didn’t chill him when the door opened.
Behind him was an off duty bus driver getting a ride back to the terminal. The hefty mass of windbreaker snored contently with headphones covering his ears. The terminal wasn’t for another forty minutes, plenty of time for a morning nap.
Across from Brian sat a lady ready for a full day of work. Her blue golf shirt peeked out around the collar of her pea coat. It was easy to assume- for the people watching pros-that a name tag was likely pinned to the blue golf shirt.
At one point in time, Brian would have pondered what establishment this lady worked for, but these simple questions were no longer interesting for him.
Two seats away was a lady clad with a white wool scarf. She wore a French style beanie over a curly mass of dark blond hair. Like the working lady, she also wore a pea coat. Brian was fairly taken by the sharp dressed lady. He didn’t think it was a matter of age, the young lady simply held an aura that attracted the eye.
The bus would stop and open its doors to the bitter morning, then allow people to end their adventure while accepting any that wished to begin their ride. Brian knew there were forty-eight stops to go before he would end his adventure. It was a long ride, but saved the head ache of daily driving.
Brian couldn’t understand how some people could handle the daily grind. He saw driving as a form of transport, but why perform it if you could get where you needed to go with better methods. The hassle of traffic was just not something he could convert into believing necessary.
The issue for him was that you didn’t know what the other person could be experiencing. They could have lost three hours of sleep the night before due to a sick spouse, or about to end a long term career that once seemed hopeful. The possibilities to Brian reeled until he became dizzy with possibilities.
People on the bus also held these internal conflicts, but decided not to inflict the world with a pent up consciousness.
Thirty- nine stops left.
Brian had recently taken to wondering if other people on the bus thought about the day they were undertaking. He had long since realized that he spent the majority of his time on a bus looking around taking in the sights and thinking about why people acted the way they did. It seemed reasonable to assume others ignored the day ahead just the same.
He would play out scenarios in his head with certain riders. With enough time, it was simple to tell how certain people would react in various circumstances.
End of day rides were often the best time frame for this game. Mornings are for observing.
Mornings were for dreaming and contemplating the way a day would go.
Brian often floated between being a music rider and non-music rider. Given his temperament and mood, the inclusion of music to this daily routine was often lost to him.
People with headphones always looked like they didn’t care, or want to seem like they didn’t care about what was going on around them. He knew he was guilty of this habit, so only assumed others were guilty when practicing it.
The yahoos at the front of the bus were joking and pointing out interesting side shows the bus passed. They were the ground of the bus. Without someone to speak out Brian wondered where he would fit in, for now he was content being a viewer.
The bus came to a stop and let in a cool balance of air. A man with a low hanging winter coat shuffled on and deposited change into the deposit toll.
Brian was struck by the unkempt nature of this man. He wore a winter hat that covered a seemingly buzzed head. The scraggy half shave he supported suggested hair loss was not an issue for this man. He was thin, to a point that the coat hung like a poncho over his frame.
He walked to the back passing Brian. The sour smell of beer Brian had imagined came to realization as the man walked past him. If it wasn’t for the smell, one could easily glance over him.
The bus had changed in atmosphere for Brian. This man, the attractive blonde, the working lady across from him, it was tainted for Brian.
Where do all you people come from?
The bus pulled over and waited to equal its schedule. In the driver seat the uniformed metro representative leafed through a newspaper. Gentle streams of cold air came in as the passengers waited to continue their travel.
Brian considered pulling a book out, and giving up his favourite game. After all, there was something obscene in someone watching other people.
But he couldn’t help observing.
Imagine if the tired driver pulled a gun on the passengers. Years had eaten away and removed their sense of compassion. The sickening smell of another drunk stepping onto your bus finally snaps the safety switch holding back a hateful release.
What if Miss attractive blonde turned out to be a spiteful tease, chatting with the first person to up the nerve? Once numbers were exchanged, she would meet up with them. Pleasantries would be exchanged- perhaps physical embraces- then it would turn dark. She would tear the heart of a relationship apart, and then devour its life.
There was no telling what the long time Working Lady would do on a bad day.
Brian couldn’t help it. He’d sit to himself, look around, listen in when he could, and wonder. It was more interesting than any book.
The bus jerked into traffic and continued its route. Twenty-two stops left of Brian’s morning ride.
He took note of the young students entering the bus. They appeared to be middle school aged, and cocky given their swag. Immediately they sat in the seats close to Miss attractive blonde. Out of their league, and age, they still wished to surround themselves with something pretty.
Brian’s stop was close, his pondering often lead him to notice the time between stops less.
Standing close to the door as he waited for his departure moment, Brian cast a glance at the youngsters. A terrifying thought grasped him as he exited the bus.
What if the kids turned? There had been four or five of them. They could have started on a bad note that day, had a seed that had silently rested until a moment like now. They would terrorize the people on the bus, hit them, cut them, do unthinkable things, they would say unthinkable things.
Brian shook his head as he stepped into the morning sun. He felt quite unsettled by the turn he had seen on the bus. His fellow passengers had seemed distant and of a darker focus.
The street lamps glowed with a dull orange light on the quiet street. Brian sat at the bust stop with four other expectant passengers. One couple and two people that chose to listen to music while they awaited their faithful transport.
The couple looked happy. They held each other’s hand and quietly stared in the direction of their soon to arrive shuttle. After a brief pause one would make a statement regarding plans for their night. It appeared Brian was glimpsing a scene from a date in the happening.
“I don’t really like those ones. I mean, ghosts and cults are creepy, but it’s so overdone. They’re all about the shock value.” The copper haired girl was trying to convey a tone of distaste.
“Okay, I get that, but give this one a try. I mean, it’s more about the turn at the end, you don’t really understand what’s so creepy and unsettling until the end. That’s a good scary movie.” The guy of this conversation tried to persuade his accomplice by putting his arm around her and making eye contact.
Brian was experienced in the art of people watching and could tell that it wasn’t the lack of value to scary movies that caused copper head to squirm away. She was scared of being afraid. Who could blame her?
The bus arrived one minute early and opened its doors to the evening air. Two people exited and said their thanks to the driver.
Nestling into his favourite seat, Brian thought about the custom he had just witnessed. People always seemed inclined to thank a driver, at least if there’s a moment for it. Perhaps it was to ensure the driver didn’t choose to shoot them should they see them on a bad day.
Night rides are often the most varied in passengers. The drunks and hooligans replace the yahoos and working ladies. If lucky, the bus will hold the odd female of eye catching value.
Brian noted the hooligans of the night. A group of high school kids with looks of mischief and cruelty occupied the middle seats of the bus. They were loud and rambunctious. The driver was often looking back to maintain order on their bus.
Four drunks -at least people that were deem able drunks- scattered the florescent lit cab.
Brian used to worry about these rides. The sour musk from a drunkard would send his mind reeling. What if the kids decided terrorizing a bus full of innocents seemed a worthy past time. One of the drunks would undoubtedly play a hero, lash out and kill one of the kids. That would merely be the beginning of such a terror ride.
Now it seemed to him that worrying was a useless waste of time. There was no benefit or gain. It was simply wasted thought space. Instead he simply imagined the scenarios, however now he felt a sense of awe and wonder, no more guilt or worry.
Brian would go home, prepare for bed and contemplate the wonderfully terrifying people he ran into on a bus trip.
While taking a razor to his chin and cheeks Brian would think about one of the drunks taking a razor to one of the school kids. Then the drunkard would turn on each of the other passengers, surely they couldn’t survive as witness to such a crime.
Perhaps it would be the bus driver. They had heard too many out of touch thankyou’s and driving just too long to care for their passengers. They would take the bus and at full speed run it into a burning inferno.
His stop came quickly, it often did at night. People Watching during a night ride is often far better than a morning trip.