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Night bus field notes

January 23, 2007, 8:25pm
UK to Fayette Mall

Nothing is more surreal (and I don’t use that word lightly as it’s been overused and abused by the media) than the bus at night. The florescent lighting lets me see to write, but it’s so unnatural. In fact, with the dark outside and the artificial light inside, we are visible to the outside world and they are invisible to us. I feel like a fish in an aquarium, a specimen. This feeling translates to the space, which feels closer, smaller. Subsequently, there is a feeling of hush, of hunkering down lest one draw notice, particularly the notice, of someone outside.

Two guys in the back, however, apparently don’t feel the same. They are fairly loud. I can understand that at the every other sentence of their non-stop talk ends with “ar-right” or “chew know” and every other phrase is punctuated with “you know what I’m sayin’”. I catch that they are talking about Tim (whoever that is) and how one of them so Tim yesterday. “Is he skinny now?” “He out (sp.) in the Village by the railroad track?” “Yea, I seed (sp.) him last night.” “Hey, this is me.” The bus slows and they talk. I think they are exchanging mobile numbers because one says, something “8590” and the other says, “Got it”. One of them gets off the bus via the door at the back. Thirty seconds later, I hear a “yeah, whaz up?” from the remaining voice. Pause, “un huh,” pause. He’s obviously on his cell. I can’t hear the next few sentences. For someone that was so loud, he suddenly got very quiet. [aside: Maybe it’s not so easy to be loud alone without your buddy.]

The rest of the ride is quiet. One white male, 35 or so, sleeps near the front. Another woman, a black female about 40 reads the paper. People get on and off with regularity and it seems that on this trip when one gets off another gets on and takes the exact same seat just vacated. The long day and the ride have left me tired. It’s like it took more effort to be inconspicuous tonight, but I managed. The mall parking lot is well lit when I disembark. I head to my car, alert nonetheless.

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