This is how things work in this little world of mine. I wake up, zombie around the flat for a while, realise I’m late, can’t find my keys, turn the place upside down looking for them, curse, they’re in my hand/pocket/some backpack compartment I didn’t know I had, run out the door and towards the bus stop, all the while obsessively trying to reassure myself I didn’t leave the stove on and I locked, checked and double checked the door. I know, it’s quite the wondrous existence.
But don’t jump to conclusions, things actually get better once I get on the bus. Because this 13 minute daily bus trip to work is what I fashionably like to call me time. There are no distractions, there are no checkboxes to check or questions to answer. I can just chill. Headphones on, I take out my Kindle, or my super duper Facebook friendly phone, and spend the time reading or diligently tapping Like buttons. It’s heaven. Or it used to be. Because for some reason, my daily 13 minutes of happiness obviously disturbed a very fragile planetary balance, and needed to be eliminated as soon and as bluntly as possible.
The problem is other people. They couldn’t care less about my 13 minute bubble. They’d rather make friends instead.
At first there was this Romanian dude, who thought that since we were the only two Romanians in the company, we had to chit chat all day long, every day, me time included. It worked for a total of an hour or two, during which time we managed to touch upon all our common colleagues and their dirty secrets, Romanian politics and of course, the weather. Then we discovered we had very little in common, and I thought I’d be back to Facebooking on the bus in no time. Oh, how wrong I was! Instead, we continuously spend my me time struggling to find superficial things to talk about. After way too many British weather centred conversations, I started taking the earlier bus. Sneaky, huh?
But do you think this meant I was finally back to my 13 minutes of zen? Nope. Now there’s this man who one morning saw me reading a Romanian book, and started telling me this story about how he’s married to a Romanian lady, and has a Romanian babysitter (who happens to share my first name, oh, the irony!), and a couple of bilingual kids who sound like spoiled bilingual brats to me. But anyway. Now my priceless me time is devoted to helping him with his Romanian pronunciation. It seems to make him happy and I, I’ve forgotten what happiness feels like anyway.
Today was wonderful. Neither of my talkative trip buddies were on the bus. Secretly hoping they’re now taking the later bus together, practicing their Romanian gossiping happily ever after, I breathed in. I was way too zen to read, listen to music or even Facebook. Instead, I looked out the window. It was raining so hard, it felt like we were hopelessly trying to escape from an end-of-the-world-monsoon. I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t have any backup plans. In fact, all I could think about was this funny little poem by Wendy Cope. It’s got very little to do with my life nowadays, but it’s not always been a stranger to me, and it’s one of the few ones I still know by heart, even now, when I seem to have lost control over my time, insides and everything else I used to take for granted.
Bloody men are like bloody buses
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.
You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You’re trying to read the destinations,
You haven’t much time to decide.
If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you’ll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.
Wendy Cope, Bloody Men