Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life in the Scary Lane

Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes
Traveling the train through clear Moroccan skies - Graham Nash, "Marrakesh Express"
Half of Spain clambered onto the bus. People spread out fiesta-style across seats, hanging out of windows, balancing on top of each other. Talking, laughing. I half expected them to start laying out tablecloths picnic style and popping bottles of Vino Rioja.

I jolted myself back to the reality of Queens, New York. It was 112°F outside and I was on my way home from work.

Where had these people come from? They looked so happy. Could they be tourists? I was never to find out, for they had barely settled themselves when the Manhattan-bound bus stopped on the Queens side of the bridge and they all got off.  They left behind a void. A silence that was as annoying as the chatter they had brought with them.  I watched as they disappeared into the distance, as they frolicked along Jackson Avenue like the dancing travelers in the final scene of Bergman's "The Seventh Seal".

Perhaps I'd dreamed them?

I looked around. There were half a dozen of us left.  Office people. Monotony reigned.  Then, out of the blue the bus screeched to a halt and the driver stood up and SCREAMED, "Everyone of the bus! Now!"

Food queue in 1950s Kiev or Upper East Side New York? Check the flag.
Surely he couldn't mean it? We were halfway across the Ed Koch bridge in the middle of three lanes of traffic.  But he did mean it, and continued to scream.

I was first out. As my feet hit the tarmac, and with one hand still holding on to the boarding rail, the driver pulled a lever causing the door to slam shut on my hand. I thought my time had come. Was the bus going to move again, pulling me along with it, dragging me through the crazy New York traffic?

The door opened and the remaining passengers were catapulted through it. We stood there on the road, looking at each other. Silent, literally dumbstruck, as the traffic roared past on every side.

Of course eventually another bus came to our aid and we were taken safely back to Manhattan. Just another New York moment after all.

But it got me thinking. About the dichotomous nature of this city. The all-or-nothing-ness of it.

Never settled, we go about our lives lurching from one type of experience to its opposite, never - and quite justifiably never - trusting that what we are experiencing will last longer than a  New York minute.


Anonymous said...

Why didn't you wait for an air-conditioned bus?
You ought to sue the Transit Authority.

Vanessa said...

isn't that illegal, not to mention unsafe to throw people off a bus in the middle of traffic on a bridge?

Or maybe it is convenient for a suicidal person? "Hey I got a lift to jump off the bridge, what a lucky break."

Either way you could sue if your hand is damaged.

Kate said...

The bus WAS air-conditioned. It was outside that it was 112F.

Sue for what? I suffered no damage.

Post a Comment