I have had the opportunity over the past three months of taking advantage of the City and County of Honolulu’s bus system. I was hesitant to to ride the bus after our first experience with it on the island (in which we were left at a strange gas station in a strange town in the middle of the night our first week here–with no one to call and no way to get home until 6:00 the next morning). Although it has been almost three months since I have become a regular on the 55 Circle Island route, I cannot say that I have any desire to continue the practice after I stop working in Honolulu. It took a few weeks for me to get past the point of feeling queasy and wanting to throw up after sitting through an hour and a half of sudden starts and stops, swaying turns and rough roads, but I am accustomed to it now and it doesn’t bother me so much. I have the same bus drivers in the morning and evening (unless I miss the bus). The morning driver has taken a liking to me, I believe, because he sees Micah waiting for the bus with me–still dressed in his pajamas–and the quick peck Micah gives me before running back up the street when we see the bus coming. He has made it a habit of stopping so the door opens right in front of me, no matter how many other people are at the stop or where they are standing. The afternoon driver has also come to expect Micah to be there waiting, although sometimes circumstances prevent him from being there. After one especially rainy day last month the driver asked where he was when I needed an umbrella–he was waiting to turn onto the highway behind the bus so he could drive me home.
Of course there are a lot of other people on the bus as well. Some of them a little bit more “interesting” than others. I was a little nervous when I got on the bus a few weeks ago and a thin, scruffy young man came and sat next to me. I was pretty sure he was on some sort of drugs the way he was flailing around. His attention span was extremely limited, and he couldn’t seem to figure out what to do with his arms. Either that or he was dancing to the unusually loud music coming from his headphones. I tried to ignore him and read my book despite the fact that he almost hit me more than a few times. I was very grateful when he joined some friends at the back of the bus. Most of the time I just watch–or try not to watch–the crazy people that share my ride. There was a guy one time who seemed to be practicing a mime routine across the aisle from me. The girl I was sitting next to and I were both trying to figure out what in the world he was doing without him noticing–although for all he seemed to be aware of, I doubt that he would have cared. One time a lady came on the bus with a cup of soda from Subway. Needless to say it didn’t stay upright for too long. Unfortunately she sat back and moaned about what a horrible day she was having while some of the other passengers cleaned it up, mostly because it was getting on their shoes and bags. Just after it was as taken care of as it was going to be, the cup spilled the rest of its contents into the aisle. The bus driver was not a happy man. Of course children always provide a welcome distraction. One girl has her grandmother in Kaneohe take care of her baby while she goes to work or school in Honolulu. She picks up the baby at one of the stops on the way home and some of the ladies nearby spend the rest of their drive making faces at the little boy. Another grandmother was taking her three grandchildren somewhere. One was an infant, but the other two were school aged kids who must have had a hard day. After twisting around the poles for a few minutes they both fell into deep sleeps–even though they couldn’t have been on the bus for more than 15 minutes. Ah, kids. They can sleep anywhere. Last week I sat next to a visually impaired man–Andy, the Hawaiian cowboy from Molokai. I’m pretty sure he could see a little bit, but I don’t know how much. He was rather chatty and I talked to him for a while before he took to calling out the bus stops, which the bus’s PA system usually does. He seemed to have it memorized, though. “Kamehameha and Kaneohe Fire Station, Kaneohe Police Station, Benjamin Parker Elementary,” he would say, right on cue. Either he could see fairly well, or he had an amazing sense of place.
Even with all the adventures and excitement that comes from riding the bus–the amazing view from Pali Highway, the guessing game of whose cell phone is ringing and how long will it take before the person realizes it, the suspense of if the driver will be able to get us home through the driving rain (we’re going on 41 days of it now)–I was pretty happy when I purchased April’s bus pass and realized it will be my last. No sentimental journeys for me. I just like to be home.