Waiting for bus number 101 with a Chinese office clerk, I could feel the air getting thicker and the humidity making my clothes sticky and clingy. So much for deliberately wearing loose garb. When the bus approached, Waya noticed it was quite packed and suggested we wait for the next one.
With a little bit more room available we boarded the next one. All the seats were occupied so we stood by the exit doors near the middle of the bus. I wrapped my arm around the vertical pole near the steps as Waya grabbed an overhead strap partially directly behind me. Additional people pushed their way down the middle jamming my body much closer to the pole than needed. The bag had slung over my shoulder was now wedged into the small of my back. The clip in my hair was biting into my head as a result of someone’s arm curving around to reach the back of a seat to hold. I found myself stretching to new heights in an attempt to breathe, while wondering if the pungent order could be emanating from me. Relief as I decided my arms were close to my body and couldn’t be the offending ones. Nonetheless, I felt wet.
The next stop brought no relief as only one individual got off. However four had gotten on at middle exit door with three of them standing in the door well of the steps. Within an instant, bus cards and coins were collected and sent towards the front of the bus. Who or how it was handled at that point is beyond me. Bus cards had various amounts of money left them. How people knew, which was theirs when they came back is a mystery. After all, I had one too and I didn’t notice a number or photo.
When the bus stopped again, the doors flew up because someone had to get off at the front of the bus. One well dress lady was determined to fit in at the middle stairwell. The doors began to close and bounced back open. The women look over shoulder rather indignantly and pulled at perhaps an inch from her strap. The doors started to close and again rebounded open. Still, I thought to myself she didn’t realize there was more behind her than her purse. She spoke a few words loudly and the gentleman in front of me pulled his one foot close to the other creating little more room. At the same time she chastised (I later earned) the woman next to her by telling her that her arm was in her way. To that, the other woman responded she was holding on, which she was, to the bar on the door one usually pushes on to exit. Although I realized we were packed in so tight there doesn’t seem to be a reason to hold on, we inevitably do. And so on the forth attempt, the doors closed. I wondered how long this could have gone on before the driver or passengers revolted. All Waya could whisper to me was that it was experience to remember. Now I understood why she insists on riding by an exit door. We didn’t have to push through nearly as many to get out of there. Ahhhhh, deep breath