These last couple of weeks I have been forced to take the bus a lot to get around. I used to love taking the bus, especially back home in Bucharest, where riding the bus can become a small adventure if done in the middle of traffic rush hours. I used to read tones of books on the bus, because an under thirty minutes bus ride didn’t exist and of course at least another twenty minutes metro ride to reach my destination. I miss the metro sometimes, especially during the summer when everything you need is to crawl in one of those wholes that man kind dug for travelling purposes, to hide from the dry heat that Bucharest is blessed with every year.
Ever since I was blessed with a car (I know now that is a blessing), I forgot the disadvantages a bus ride has. First of all your schedule is decided by others and sometimes what used to be a ten minute drive, becomes an hour with the bus. Second of all, you are stripped of all your comfort and you have to share your space, your feelings, your urgent phone calls with all the strangers around you and they too are very generous and share their smells and thoughts with you. The bike is always a good option in Florence, but cars are very mean and sometimes it’s more dangerous than it seems. So, anyway, in Florence, it’s rather easier than back home to get around by bus, because in the city areas where traffic becomes mad, buses have a special lane and I for one kind of enjoy flying passed the suckers in cars waiting for the never-ending red semaphore lights to turn green. The problem is I love being in traffic when driving (I know, I am weird that way), just because it used to allow me time to stand still and think and we never force ourselves to stand still and just think anymore. In the bus though, you have your elderly people, and it seems to not matter in which country you are, they all act the same. They all have this unique desire to ride the bus when people go to work or come back from work and the space is cramped and you feel like a match in an over crowded match box. The funniest thing is when you see them running after the bus like real athletes and a soon as they step foot in it they become needy and helpless. Of course you have to give them your seat, because you are a polite and well raised person, so you watch them, sitting down, and all the tired from work people hanging like clothes on a string, some almost falling asleep, some grinning because of the pain of standing up after 12 hours of work, some smiling because the next stop is theirs. And you know what all these people must think in their heads? Why don’t I have a fucking car? (hahahaha) I remember when I was pregnant I had to take the bus a lot and at some point, when my belly became so big that poked every one around, tears were almost making their way on my cheeks because of the pain of standing up, and none of the hypnotized people sitting down offered me their seat. It’s so funny to watch them how they look away intentionally or pretend not to hear or see you because of the book and headphones distracting them. I’ve never encountered this type of ignorance and dis-consideration else where but here and although I am bad mouthing the elders too, they were the only ones who would stand up and offer me their seat back then. Such good times to remember!
Also the pleasure of reading in the bus was also taken away from me, the moment I realized I cannot concentrate and enjoy it anymore with all the sounds and the smells and the poking around me. All in all what I am trying to say is that there is a time and place for everything and either if you pass from walking to taking the bus, to riding a bike or to a car, the thing is you grow from one level to another and taking one step back is always cruel and hard even if you used to enjoy that step. The only bus I love in Florence is the one that spins around in my neighborhood; it’s always empty, the drivers are always smiling and it never fails to take me home in less than five minutes. For all the rest, I hate you so much and I can’t wait to see the day (soon enough) when I will be sitting at the red semaphore lights and watch you pass me by on your special lane, with your overwhelming matches poking inside, and I will smile and think that I would rather have a comfortable hour in traffic than ten minutes in a match box.