Slice of Life Tuesday -When I Rode The Bus

This morning I watched a bus go by and stop nearby as I walked Mornington’s main street. Schools are on a term break and I have time to amble. I like the notion of ambling. Remember, not all who wander are necessarily lost. I fixed my gaze on the bus for a brief moment.  I realized I have not travelled on a bus since returning from New York in 2007. I must be honest, I don’t miss the experience. 

 The longer I stayed in New York, the more my travel innocence eroded. I experienced things in New York, I had only ever read about. The comfort of my existence in a quiet, coastal town in far away Australia proved to be the antithesis of the life I came to know during my time in New York. I moved through a life wrapped in exciting, strange, challenging, scary-weird and wonderful moments, -often within the same hour.

When I first came to live in Brooklyn, Friday mornings found me catching the No 69 bus out of Park Slope, knowing I was sure of getting a seat on the not yet crowded bus. It provided time to contemplate the day awaiting me at my Friday school in the project housing area near the Brooklyn Navy yards. I enjoyed my two years working with a school community working hard to overcome huge student disadvantage. The bus journey  to get there was never much fun.

 On one particular morning, the bus had reached the crowded intersection of Atlantic Avenue and  Vanderbilt Avenue, where we picked up passengers outside the ubiquitous McDonalds and moved on through the intersection. Across the intersection the traffic stalled, and at this point I noticed a tall man wander out onto the road and move between the stalled traffic. He grabbed another young man, somewhat shorter in stature, who had also wandered onto the road from the opposite side. The taller man escorted his companion to the side of the road.  The shorter individual had his hand placed inside his coat and was grimacing and appeared to be experiencing significant pain. He walked along the pavement supported by his companion who was pulling him forward. From the bus window I watched them walk past the car wash and then directly alongside the 69 bus. Momentarily my eyes met with the man clutching his side. Initially I thought that he had been struck by a car, while attempting to cross the road.

 The bus moved forward and stopped fifty metres further along Vanderbilt Avenue, the next the designated stop. Two young girls clambered on board and excitedly declared ‘Someone just got shot!’ It was at this precise instant I realized what I had experienced. My mind switched immediately to the face of the young man. -That face, the pain so obvious, the holding of his side as he moved; the look in his eyes.    My innocence was swept away in the space of a breath. A woman sitting next to me on the bus turned to me and said “The world is a sad and dangerous place at times like this. I don’t understand”

Strangely the bus driver, the person with an uninterrupted view of the whole episode, had not given the slightest indication that he had seen anything unusual. He just continued to drive the bus. He never uttered a word. Was he just de-sensitized?

The bus continued forward on its route. But for me, the day was no longer the same. Throughout the day I continued to see the face of that young man, and I began to speculate on what had prompted the events of the morning.

Bus adventures, misadventures, and memories of New York moments triggered by the sighting of a bus this morning. Who would have imagined that?

A bus in Manhattan not Brooklyn- but a bus all the same!


  1. Your description of the man holding his side was riveting. I like the way you described the scene along with your thoughts. Enjoyed your piece. :)

  2. What strikes me is that you made eye contact in a moment when everyone else looked away. That would be part of man's story, too.

  3. I like the way you led us down that garden path, and wanted the story to turn another way, but sadly, it did not. You described the connection with the man with small details, enough to forecast the importance of what you saw, making me want to read on.

  4. Don't you just wish you could erase the scene? And it's so scary thinking that no one seems to take notice of anything, or do anything about it.


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