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Riding the Bus

When I was young I would sometimes take the M1 bus down 5th avenue. It took forever, practically as long as walking, but I loved to sit in the front and stare out the sweeping plate of glass that separated those of us ensconced in our rolling cocoon from the rest of the world. Riding in the front of a bus is something unlike riding shotgun in a cab or private car. The vista is much wider. When it rains, those herky jerky windshield wipers seem never able to clear off the glass without smudges. And the ride itself, of course, is one-of-a-kind. The swish of the (frequently applied) air brakes, the constant unanticipated jolts from left and right.

Well last night I decided to do some penance for all the cabbing I did over the weekend and rode the bus to and from the AMC Kips Bay to see Julie & Julia. The return trip was slightly more exciting than the trip there because it was drizzling out and the corner of 2nd Avenue and 29th Street, not exactly a hotspot of metropolitan nocturnal activities, was feeling rather barren at 10:30pm. While I checked the bus schedule (would it come at 10:30 or 10:35?) I knew in my heart of hearts that those schedules are sometimes strangely accurate, but usually just there for a bit of cheer and moral support. We waited quite some time for the bus but when it did arrive, barreling down 2nd Avenue, I was happy to hear the swoosh of those brakes as it careened to a stop in the approximate location of the designated bus stop. The bus was far from crowded, as you might expect, and thus I was able to score the seats in front, those normally reserved for the elderly and such, for myself. Of course, I would have given them up for a flock of the old, but considering the population density on the M15 that night I doubted I would need to vacate before I disembarked at Houston Street.

I love to sit on the right side of the bus. It offers a better view of the road. Plus, I get to examine the driver’s seat as we jostle through the vehicular crowd. The throne is a marvel of elementary engineering, packed with springs and buttons that look like they were lifted from an early space shuttle. Nonetheless, the seat seems to offer an oasis of smooth hauling for the driver as the rest of us try not to lose our lunch. I admit it, I’ve looked upon to those padded, highly adjustable perches with more than a wee bit of envy on a particularly potholed stretch of 9th Avenue.

Sure, its not an practical mode of transportation for those of us perpetually fourteen minutes late, but there is something unexpectedly appealing about taking the bus. One finds a sort of respite from the quicker, faster, better sensibility. Sitting in the front of the bus, I can’t help but feel calmed by the frequent stops and shutters as I look ahead, lost in the city’s embrace.

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  1. Phyllis Wheelan
    August 27th, 2009 at 19:11 | #1

    Our love of the big picture window on New York that is the windshield of the NYC bus is genetic. The right side is indeed the right side on which to be. Often one may engage in ‘conversation’ of a sort with the bus driver – which entails making fun of everyone, a pastime I continue to relish. When Billy was little we would race for those seats and watch the world go by. Before Billy I would engage in the same odyssey – going either north or south on the 5th Ave. bus. So, from one generation to the next, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

  2. Lauren
    August 28th, 2009 at 12:53 | #2

    ok first of all: “WHEN you were young”… as opposed to when? now??
    and second: how did you like J&J?

  3. admin
    August 28th, 2009 at 14:29 | #3

    I think I would have rather seen an entire movie with Mrs. G’s fabulous interpretation. The flipping back and forth in time wasn’t terribly interesting.

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