“Funny how you begin to recognize your fellow commuters by the smell as they breeze by you. The wizened old smiling lady who loves her lavender essential oil. The quiet ‘no eye contact’ girl who always wafts nag champa like she carries it in her lunch pail. The old man who smells dusty in a good way, a man very much a part of the dry hot roadway he walks every day to meet the bus. The floral scents of the high school girls who always fly together like a cheap flock of songbirds, tweeting and twittering to themselves in the back row. The sweaty wind blowing from the hard working coffee bean harvester who never has time to shower but always wears a smile.
Small town, small island, we get to know each other through the happenstance of synchronized work schedules. I raise my head and nod to each one as they board, with the sky just beginning to lighten outside and the cocks just beginning to crow.
Miles roll by like the tides and the bus fill up quickly. Sometimes I offer my seat to Lavender Lady so she does not need to stand, and sometimes to Old Dusty who always forgets my name. I’ll spend 13 hours on these feet once i get to my destination, but there is no excuse for sitting while my peers are forced to stand. I do not begrudge them this courtesy, when I have passed my 80th year it will be my turn to sit for a while.
The bus driver hums to himself and the CB radio fuzzily mumbles to distant routs. The ocean stays to my right, playing peek-a-boo through palm trees, wild sugar cane and coffee plantations.
I have 2 1/2 miles to walk once the bus drops me by the Shell station where i always get a gatorade. This morning the driver was Sunny, and I tell him to have a good day as I depart. Karen and Milly are working the counter at the Shell, and Milly tries once again to get me to eat one of the carrot cakes. “yer too skinny girl, all that hard work is gonna bite you in the ass about 3 o’clock if you don’t listen to your aunty and eat one of these.” I surprise her by actually buying one, and she smiles like I just gave her a birthday gift. “See?” she says to Karen “I told you she would give in eventually, you owe me a dollar.”
I’m running a few minutes late so I have to jog the last mile to punch the clock on time. Today was a doggie day for me, have to let the big kids out of their kennels to potty and they are VERY happy to see me. Kyra the bloodhound jumps up for a kiss and leaves the first dirty doggie print of the day right on my left breast. I tell her to stop flirting and point her toward the door, she wiggles and smiles at me before joining the others in the yard.
The little kids are yipping and squealing as they see the others flood the enclosure, knowing I’m on my way to their house. The crunch of my boots in the gravel makes the poi poodle howl with excitement. Dog popcorn as they hop at the doors, waiting for them to open.
Kitty cats blink sleepily from various perches as I arrive with breakfast, but cats move on their own time. They curl back up with their noses in their tails and decide they will sleep in and have breakfast whenever they damn well please.
Hours slip by at a snail’s pace, and walking on concrete has my feet aching by noon. By the end of the day I smell like wet dog, am covered in mud on my legs from Talor the lab who loves to jump in the pond then rub it on ya. She is a ninja, she’ll get you when you least expect it.
After everyone has been chastised for humping, scolded for barking, gotten time outs for fighting, lovins and scratches, my 13 hours are finally over.
Another 2 1/2 miles to the bus stop and I’m headed back to the west side.
How does a writer find time to actually WRITE under these conditions? Well, more often than not it’s right here, on the bus, hunched over my cell phone next to Lavender Lady.”