I took a trip this week. I didn’t go to NYC and I didn’t go to Paris. Darn. But I met a lot of people, did some sightseeing and was driven by a chauffeur. It was a great time to write as well and it only cost me $1.50 for a 2-hour tour.
Write Anywhere #13: Bus Ride
I hopped aboard the 471, a transit route that runs the width of the city for an afternoon change of scenery. I made a round trip: no stops, no transfers to the astonishment of my bus driver, a man full of fascinating stories told in a smooth worldly-wise voice that sounded exactly like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. He told tales of strange rider-folk and was a bit of a philosopher.
“The thing about driving a bus is you learn about people, but I learn about me. I can’t change them, but I can change me.”
He was shocked that I didn’t have a destination but only wanted to ride. I wanted to give him a philosophic retort: “Sometimes the ride is the destination.” He was too busy trying to help a woman find the stop that would get her to Silver Dollar Jewelry and Pawn.
We made a lot of stops for college students, nurses on the 3 to 11 shift, tattooed pizza makers and elderly couples headed for their daily mall walk. A woman in tiger print velvet pajama pants bursting at the seams refused to acknowledge the driver as she sat waiting at a stop. “I always ask them if they want this bus, because a lot of people decide after I drive off, then chase the bus and cuss me out cause they couldn’t decide in time. I don’t know why they don’t know where they’re going.”
The driver kept track of every passenger’s stop, avoided smashing reckless drivers swerving in front of the bus while spinning his yarns like a village elder. At one harrowing downhill race, while the cars zoomed by, a butterfly floated past the windshield in a slow-motion flight. Strange.
I got off at my starting point with note pages full of ideas, albeit in a chicken scratch scribble. If you want to get some ideas for characters in your writing, take some time to get on your local mass transit system. You’ll meet some wonderful characters.