Trentmoller in my ears. 50 Great Short Stories in my hands. Six bracelets stacked on my left wrist. I ran to catch the 900 on its way through downtown Yeongtong, it’s normal barreling speed and distinctly insane driving style curtailed by a large group of high school students just leaving classes (It’s 10:00 PM).
I stepped up into the bus, simultaneously reaching for the Cash Bee electronic ticket counter and making a small and polite bow to the driver. He looked frustrated. I always imagine them seeing their passengers as an inconvenience to the efficiency of their route. Damn customers, always wanting to get on and off. Can’t they see I’m in a hurry?
Two young men (one cute, one not) sit down on the aisle seats of the last seats available. I stand in between them, looking at both. I resign myself to standing for the remainder of the journey, since neither appears to be particularly willing to be a gentleman and scoot the hell over. I turn to grab the pole for dear life. Not cute man gathers his backpack and scoots over. Sometimes actions speak louder than perfect eyebrows.
The LED lights shine off every surface in the bus and glitter in the rain on the windows, making it seem far prettier than it actually is. I’ve noticed that Yeongtong seems to physically move to another place between night and day, since its appearance changes so much. During the day, all business. At night, the twinkles and glitz come out. That was the Yeongtong of my first impression upon moving here, the chintzy mini-Las Vegas.
I read the entire short story by Frank O’Hara, complete with stomach-turning twist. The bus rumbles along, turning precariously to the side as we fly over the uneven ground caused by the massive subway construction project attempting to further connect the city. In the meantime, half the traffic seems to be busses, dodging pedestrians and cars alike, roaring down the main streets in games of chicken to see who will let the other in to go to the bus stop.
The drivers of the 900 are always in the biggest hurry. They routinely run the fuck out of red lights. There is no other description for it. It’s not the panicked look of “Oh my god, was that red? I can’t believe I didn’t see it!” but a purposeful weave around a stopped car, followed by gunning it through the red light regardless of whether there are cars coming in the other direction.
Our driver appears to think that the bus makes him invincible, and speeds through two stale reds on the main road. I wait for the announcement of my stop on the PA system, and slowly stand up to prepare to get out. I press the button that lights up firey red and makes the same sound that the door at the 7-11 in the neighborhood I grew up in does. The driver pulls slightly over into the stop, hitting the door button before he’s even hit 10 mph.
My extended foot swings to the side with the force of the braking, and the second the stop is complete I fling myself out the door.