(it was a strange experience, no question.)
no solid answer either, of course, but even before that,
an undoubtedly strange
but probably not unprecedented experience.
maybe it was an everyday type experience-
you know, just another example
of everyday style strangeness.
check it out-
I was the only one on the bus,
besides the driver of course.
a 15 hour red-eye between two
insignificant american cities-
the deep night, the interstate-
most definitely a strange
and somewhat unsettling/unsettled experience.
"have you been enjoying your travels, sir?"
I finally got up the courage to ask him.
"indeed I have not."
(fairly strange and somewhat unsettling answer.)
"but since you're the only other human being on this bus, I feel as though I may as well speak my mind for a change."
"please, by all means," I urged him. (I was beginning to warm to this fellow.)
"how long have you been driving a bus?"
"on and off for about 45 years."
"wow...I suppose that could almost constitute something along the lines of a career."
"I'm not sure what that word means anymore, son."
"yeah, I suppose it has become a little ambiguous recently."
"more than a little ambiguous."
"do you not enjoy it anymore, sir?"
"not enjoy what?"
"driving a bus."
"who says I ever enjoyed it?"
"you're right, sir- I apologize. that was a highly presumptuous question."
"no need to apologize- it's a common mistake."
"yeah, I suppose it probably is."
"no supposin' about it."
(the deep night)
he was a fairly rickety fellow. probably mid, upper seventies. seemed like he hadn't moved out of that driver's seat for a couple of decades, and had gradually put down a vast system of roots there. he and the bus seemed to have come to some sort of agreement.
"what else do you do besides driving a bus on and off?"
a deep sigh.
a longer pause.
a deep sigh.
"this isn't something I normally talk about with passengers...but seeing as though you're the only one on here...well...it's a somewhat delicate subject..."
"you write haiku, don't you?"
"is it that obvious, lad?"
"pretty obvious, sir."
a very deep sigh.
a very long pause.
"what do you tend to write about, sir?"
"mostly this bus driving business."
"huh...I wasn't expecting that answer."
"well, what were you expecting?"
"I don't know...anything but that, I guess."
"and yet, that's the one thing you know about me- am I right about that?"
"well, I know you don't really enjoy it."
"did I actually say that, young man?"
"huh...I'll have to choose my words more carefully next time."
"but even so- do you think that people tend to write about the things they enjoy?"
"I don't really have a well-informed opinion about that...I haven't known too many writers."
"have you known any?"
"and what did they tend to write about?"
"hold on... let me think for a second... ok... yes, if I'm recalling correctly... they wrote quite a bit about the things they enjoyed."
"well...inter-courses, for one."
"as in sexual inter-courses?"
"as in sexual inter-courses, yes- 'tab a in slot b', etc."
"world affairs...globalization...the race to the top...building bridges..."
"family life...travel...anecdotes from the workplace...the animals..."
"what in god's name do you mean by 'raw technology', son?"
"crouching down to drink from the so-called primordial source?"
"ah...I see...sure...what else?"
(this guy was relentless!)
"uh...that's about all I can think of right now."
"all the usual subjects, more or less?"
"I don't know, driver- are all those regarded as the usual subjects?"
"indeed they are, young man- the perennial subjects, in fact."
"have you touched on any of those in your haiku?"
"indeed I have not."
(very long pause)
(another very long pause)
(it was around this point that we both gradually slipped back into the general silence.)
(there was of course the sound of rushing air and the sound of tires on pavement.)
it was a strange conversation, no question.
a bizarre mix of very strange
and very straightforward questions...
I guess you could say the same thing about most of the answers.
I was the only one on the bus!
(besides the driver, of course.)
just he and I,
the deep night,
a strange and somewhat unsettling/unsettled experience.
(to be continued)