In a moment of despair, floating through the shadows of self-doubt and mental emptiness, I remembered childhood bus trips to the City. At that time, exploring the world, I was freed from the emptiness of waiting at home, reading in my cardboard refrigerator box, caring for action but enduring the sluggishness of an unstructured summer break existence. As incredible as it seems in this world of stranger warnings, Missing and Exploited Bulletins, and government intervention in child-rearing, as an eight-year-old, I was able to board a bus, go downtown, and return home with not much ado. I had a destination, and the bus went by the front of the building, enabling me to study dance and squeak through some useless voice lessons.
I decide to take a day to explore the blissfulness of this bygone style of travel and recapture the free-flight emotions of youthful independence and endless opportunities. As I make my way to the nearest Greyhound Bus Station, many years have past and I am anxious to sit and ruminate, wondering if anyone will actually be waiting for a bus to anywhere? Is there a need for buses anymore, except for the most low-income, and where do people need to travel anyway by bus? As I peer around, I notice that rather than a suitcase or small satchel, most of the travelers have burgeoning backpacks. Young children jump around erratically or sit sullenly next to mothers staring vacantly, and older teens have their heads bowed as if in technological prayer. Not what I expected. No hand-to-mouth homeless folks or retired old ladies seeking a visit with their adult children are lounging about the station.
Since I am not purchasing a ticket, I decided to sit unobtrusively on a bench within earshot of folks so that I may eavesdrop, while seeking a conversational prompt to capture their travel itineraries and pry to the extent I am able. There are no young children traveling unattended as I had. There were no professionals with briefcases, hurrying off to a busy day at the office. Clearly, there weren’t salesmen with sample cases. I looked carefully to determine if any of these bus-takers were old-styled “domestics” and concluded that nannies probably live-in now or have vehicles and cleaning staff arrive in mini-vans with emblems advertising their services.
Within minutes I skulk around closing in on some conversations, and I am able to capture some information. The young man next to me with the enormous backpack and low hung pants is actually a college student going to classes. His conversation on his phone is with what sounds like a girlfriend. Not too exciting and definitely a replay of many informational exchanges with mild romantic interests. The young mother is shouting endlessly at her three young children to sit down, stop jumping around, use your indoor voice. Not much there of interest given no conversation is happening.
What has struck me is not what is there waiting for life. There are travelers, having a destination, not particularly distinguished by their economic levels, and no one interested in chatting. No one seems to be excited about the experience or having the adventure of their lives.