Busful of Lonely
05 Mar 2004
I finally got my passport back yesterday, so I was able to go open my new Shanghai bank account today. My first payday at my new job comes next week, so I had to be sure to get this done. I’ve been in Shanghai for over two full months without any paychecks yet. I neeeeed that first paycheck as soon as possible!
Anyway, there’s a girl in our company that makes daily runs to the bank the company uses, so I went with her. We took the bus there and back.
It wasn’t yet afternoon rush hour as we made our way back, but the bus was quite full. It was one of those long, electric buses, that works like a glorified, overloaded bumper car (usually with a little less bumping).
It wasn’t until we stopped at a light that I noticed it. There were two older men in the back of the bus chatting. They were at least half the length of the bus away from me, so my first thought was, “wow, those guys are really loud, and they’re not even talking on cell phones.”
Immediately after that, it hit me. Except for those two older men in the back, the bus was dead silent. Everyone was gripping a strap, latched onto a hand rail, nestled in a seat, just staring silently off into nothing.
And I thought, “Wow, it’s so quiet in here. This can’t last.” But it lingered on and on, those two old guys in the back the only dissenters.
“Do you realize that out of all the people on this big long bus, the only two people making any noise are those two guys in the back?” I whispered to her. I think half the bus heard me. She smiled and nodded back.
Then the bus got moving, and it was easy enough to pretend that we were all a part of the energy outside that we were careening through.
Soon thereafter some middle aged ladies got on and started talking. It even got close to a normal Chinese bus scene before we got off at our stop. I think some passengers may even have remembered they were alive.