Thursday, September 11, 2003

While Waiting

Except for books and maybe music, I don't like shopping for anything. One reason for my dislike is the fact that I have to carry everything back home. Even if I take the bus (only run on the weekdays, darn it!) I have to walk several blocks. It wouldn't be so bad if the buses ran on the weekends and after 6 PM and if I didn't have the penchant for shopping in bulk--but there it is. Out in the middle of nowhere with the threat of winter hanging over your head (I saw an ominous sign proclaiming "Prepare for winter!" outside one of the newer grocery stores even though everything is still quite green) it's quite foolhardy not to be stocked up with the necessities.

"Not having a car sucks," commiserated a fellow bus passenger. He's absolutely right--with the way cities and towns are planned, everything spreading out thinly like an oil slick on water, it's impossible to get anywhere without some sort of vehicle. I could mooch off somebody else and hitch a ride with a friend but that strikes me as too dependent and freeloading. So I use what's available to me.

But cutting out the bus waiting would also cut out something else that is perhaps more important than convenience. Waiting is a forced time-out from the rest of the hectic world and for a couple of moments, I can take stock of myself and watch the world go by. Necessary stuff for the soul.

While I was waiting I observed some interesting people. There was an older woman dressed in trendy teeny-bopper clothes which exposed her midriff--tanned, wrinkly, fatty. A rather large young woman in a red blouse, black skirt, and blue shoes came by asking if the bus had passed by yet. She sat down on a bench and took out a wad of bills and began counting it with her brightly colored (and sharpened) nails. When she was finished, she showed pictures of her seven-year-old brother to the chain-smoking employees of the nearby store who were on break.

I saw two military men. Soldiers or marines or another division, I wasn't sure. They wore white caps and navy pants with a red stripe running down the sides. Their jackets were of a darker hue with gold buttons on the front. A white belt cinched the waist and yellow chevrons (denoting their rank?) decorated the arms. They looked so out of place in the busy parking lot with harried mothers, bouncing children, smirking teenagers, and old men carting out the latest power tools. Then I remembered there was a veteran's hospital nearby--ten, twenty minutes--and some news on public radio. An unscrupulous man had conned the hospital using someone else's identity, the identity of a man who had served during the Vietnam War, a man who was already dead.

Riding the bus isn't "cool", but then I would have missed overheard conversations. Another man lamented about his crumbling love life to some of his friends. His former girlfriend had taken up with a rival. "I think she's falling in love with him." Cynicism, dejection, resignation laced his voice. "But at least I get to see my two month old daughter whenever I want."

Cross-posted at Syaffolee.

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