Everyone is looking for his or her own place in the world, like me stepping into the bus during rush hours, looking for an empty seat or a good corner space to lean on. We all want our own place whether on a crowded bus, overpopulated planet earth, or in the hierarchy of power. Some of us look for an empty seat on a bus, many of us look for our own apartments where we feel like home. There are still a handful of us, figuring out ways to climb up the ladder of power and authority in different contexts. Life is where different people survive with different motives.
As soon as I set foot in the bus and spotted an empty seat, I rushed in as if there was no pure happiness in the world. I saw no one, I noticed no one but the seat – a place to sit for an hour ride back home, a token of comfort for the rest of my ride and I had no intention to share with anyone. I could sense the jealousy from a girl who hopped on behind me but I couldn’t help it. I needed the seat as much as she did.
A couple of bus stops later, a mother with two children hopped on and wandered around the bus. Instantly, I felt the need to give up my seat for her but on a second thought, my seat was not even the priority seat. As I wavered, two girls and their mom were still looking around, maybe expecting someone to give up his/her seat. Having a glance at a girl sitting on the priority seat, I found no guilt in her face but pure ignorance. She looked away as she caught my eyes. Split seconds later, the two boys beside me gave up their seats for the little girls. I was not proud of what I did, or what I did not do. I was even ashamed that I held on to the fact that my seat wasn’t priority seat, I reasoned myself that my journey would have taken another hour, but deep down I knew it was just the lack of selflessness, twisted with bystander effect. I’m not proud but I’m no saint. I wanted the comfort as much as everyone did, I wanted a space as much as everyone did.
Rest of the ride, people hopped on and hopped off. Some stood beside me with the hope of occupying my seat when I took off. Most of them left and moved inside the bus, hoping for better chances at the back when more passengers hopped on. But there was one woman. She stood at 3 o’clock and she never left. New passengers pushed her as they moved inside the bus. Clearly, she rooted her feet by my side and didn’t go anywhere. Some new comers gave her side eyes for partly blocked the way but she was just there, minding her own business, balancing herself at every turn.
Three stops away from my destination, the bus was filled with more people, getting off from work and heading home. Almost everyone held his/her lunch boxes. Some people on the seat offered to hold lunchbox of the ones who were standing. That was the best we could do – we couldn’t give up our seats but still offered to carry someone else’s bag.
That’s life. We do not give up on our hopes and dreams for someone else’s but we help them along the way. We are still grateful for those who help us, aren’t we? There will always be someone who look away when you are in need of help, or worse, someone who will simply watch your world falls into pieces. That is why having true friends is important – as important as standing beside someone who is willing to carry your lunchbox on bus.
As I lost myself in thoughts, my destination approached so I wore straps of my backpack, and tried to stand up. As my body moved, three people beside me got themselves ready to take my place. I wondered what they were thinking. There were three of them and only one seat. I wanted to know what they were thinking so badly because I could see that they wanted the sea, they wanted a comfortable ride back home, obviously. Would the woman at 3 o’clock get it? Or the new girl who just stepped in or the dude who often hit my back with his lunch box?
Once the bus stopped, I left. I wonder how many people pushed each other, how many people got bumped and who got the seat. But I never looked back. Because I got a seat on the bus, I enjoyed it during my time there, and I left without dwelling on it. I believe that is how we are supposed to spend our time on the earth. We survive, we enjoy, we suffer, and then we leave… as in ashes.