May 02, 2004

Two hours.

Although I do have my own computer -- and it finally may have recovered from an extended convalescence, personal testing and file retrieval yet to be completed (although I already know that every music note symbol seems to have been oddly replaced at some point) -- budget considerations dictate its dedication to off-line word and work only. Two hours a day is the absolute maximum amount of Internet time I am normally granted through public sources. More often, public demand or other obligations dictate it be less. (There is something of a mosh pit at library openings on Sundays, for the hours of availability are few and the demand fierce -- but somehow all those who need the access manage to find at least some part of it.) Once a week, dedicated to a chat timed to intercept with the traditionally "slow" time on Tuesdays, it is more.

Two hours flies.

On Sundays, public transit time becomes an additional consideration, since the buses are neither frequent not particularly reliable. Today I came very close to spending an additional hour over and above the one lost to the missed transfer in order to track down that specific bus driver and ask why, after having made eye contact and waving me to an alternate stopping point, he drove right past me. (The mosh pit to come made the arrival time particularly relevant.) It was so obviously deliberate that some automobile owners were noticing. At least he did not drive at speed through the puddles.

Two hours of Internet access. Two other hours of transit time. Two hours of stars blurred by coming rain, and the smell of rain in the air, and the starred impact of light rain in the standing water.

Every one of the bus drivers with whom I rode today managed to find some way in which they had been inconvenienced by others. One complained the entire journey (not to me this time, but to a fellow bus driver) of the students and their ignorance of the ways of bus, and of how, even by the end of the academic year, those students could not be bothered to take even that single extra step to learn in advance the routes, so that he had to keep answering the same destination questions again and again. Curiously, this same driver himself refused to take a single extra step outside his own duties to make life even in the slightest easier for his passengers. Quite the contrary: he cut corners on his own duties in at least three separate places, and one person waiting quietly at the back for the bus to stop at the bell was driven past his stop and two more before I realised and called out to the driver; and later, because the driver hated the scheduled terminus wait times and chose to make them up instead in-route by driving much more slowly than either traffic or schedule, I ended up missing the connecting once-an-hour bus (but was at least fortunate that it was not the last one of the day). The students were found by him to care for nothing outside their own immediate needs and duties and what was most imminently demanded of them, and he condemned them and mocked them for it ... and neither did he himself.

Two hours of unnecessarily having to feel the natural world around us, of having to interact with other people.

Sunday bus drivers ... I find this pattern more with the Sunday drivers than with those working the buses on any oher day, not all of them, but far more than what seems to be most usual. It makes sense: the Sunday routes are structured around the most generally desirable schedules, which tend to be filled first by those highest on the seniority list -- who also happen to be those more likely to cut corners than to take that single extra step to see through the eyes of their passengers. I recognise a legitimate need for unions, at one point in my life I have been a union steward, and yet some of the apologies for labour grievances I have heard over the years make me wince for the future of taking pride in one's work -- and again this is much more common among the Sunday drivers, who are high on the seniority list and beginning to consider retirement, and who have long since discovered that the transit corportation itself really doesn't give any weight to experience and insight and potential planning contributions of drivers ... or of passengers, for that matter.

What a strange world we live in, that we tick off the time spent on such incidentals as "lost", that any delay, even one caused by taking a single extra step, should be considered an inconvenience to what matters in life!


Smile of the day:

A large family with seven children, having moved to a new city, were having a difficult time finding an apartment to live in. Many apartments were large enough, but the landlords objected to the large family.

After several days of searching, the father asked the mother to take the four younger children to visit the cemetery while he took the older three to find an apartment. After they had looked most of the morning, they found a place that was just right. Then the landlord asked the usual question: "How many children do you have?"

The father answered with a deep sigh, "Seven ... but four are with their dear mother in the cemetery."

He got the apartment.

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