I just spent the last two hours at the downtown Tulsa bus station. My, how the mighty have fallen!!
When I was about 9, my stepfather, who was a school teacher/coach would drive buses for the summer, and we’d all pack up like we were going on vacation and ride with him all over the United States. I was always excited when we would first start off, and then within an hour, I was ready to be finished with the trip….Boring!…. Mom always made me take several books, knowing I was going to have to keep busy or my brain would melt. Smart woman.
Buses back then were newer, and the fact that you could use the bathroom at the back while trucking on down the road made me feel like we were royalty….traveling in style. I used the fancy bus facilities constantly, and R. would have to threaten me to keep me from skirting on back to the fancy bathroom every 5 minutes or so…
This evening/early morning hours were spent at a creepy bus station surrounded by some people who I’m sure have appeals pending in the State of Oklahoma Supreme Court, and I can’t say I enjoyed it much. My danger meter was blaring in my head the whole time.
And personally, I think those buses are the same buses R. drove back in the 70’s. I think even some of the passengers were the same as well….
The one funny moment though, was when one bus pulled up, and all but one passenger climbed off with un-lit cigarettes in their mouths and desperation on their faces. Yes, I thought, I can completely relate. They all congregated around my son, daughter, and me, all lighting their cancer sticks in unison, almost like they were a tobacco flash mob without the music…It looked choreographed!
Not understanding Bus Etiquette, I instructed my son to climb on the bus when I saw other passengers boarding it, and was berated loudly by the bus driver, who informed me that climbing on the bus without a driver on it, is the same as walking into his personal home without knocking. Would I walk into his personal home without knocking? Well, would I? He was really snarky and sarcastic, and he was enjoying every minute of it. You could tell…Looking back, it probably was one of the few times the job career he chose gave him some real authority over another person. That, and I was probably the only Not-Dangerous-Looking person at the whole bus station.
I wanted to yell right back that:
1) No, it doesn’t occur to me that people live on buses; do you actually live on this bus??
2) No, I would never walk into someone’s home without permission; but no one is knocking on your bus door either, so I’m kind of confused by the analogy…
3) Are all those other people who seated themselves on the bus with no driver on it, relatives that live in your Bus Home since you didn’t address this same complaint with them?
4) And, “You are yelling at a tiny hypervigilant woman who hadn’t been to sleep in 2 days. Be very, very careful, my friend. You’re treading on some pretty thin ice..Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you’re bigger than I am..Sleep deprivation and near Primal Fear make me the most dangerous human in Tulsa right now ….
Instead, I just mumbled, “Sorry.”
Who knows how many of the Smoke Squad were his regulars, and might not want this woman beating up their bus driver. Who knows how long it would have taken to replace him?
Actually, I could have pulled it off. Quite honestly, they had more important things going on than keeping someone from killing their bus driver…They were frantically sucking in as much smoke as possible to sustain them until they reached the next stop. Being a fellow smoker, I know where their priorities lay…
I just blew it off. I’m pretty sure I won’t care that much after I finally get a good night’s sleep. And it can’t be the childhood dream of this guy’s, to be a mass transportation driver. Let him have his moment…
I had two hours to work myself up into a near panic over too many things to even begin to list here, but one thought did occur to me. In the end, Jesus wipes away all of our tears. But I think what I will love seeing even more, is the sadness around the eyes of the people who have such hard lives. smoothed out forever. Even without tears, you can spot a world-weary face in a crowd. There is a tightness through their mouths, and a sadness in their eyes.
You want to see what a hard life will do to you? Hang out at the Tulsa Greyhound Bus Station at 3:30am one morning. I saw a lot of stories on those faces tonight.