On Board #27

Sept. 4, 8:10 p.m.
167 Bus – Port Authority to Haworth, NJ

The most awe-inspiring view of Manhattan is not from the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Promenade, or the George Washington Bridge. It’s on a bus to New Jersey, after sunset, exiting the Lincoln Tunnel and curving toward Weehawken. It’s a sight whose description wouldn’t do it justice, so that’s all I will say.

The windows on a bus provide this view, distinguish it from the underground subway, and help alleviate an otherwise painfully boring ride. Unlike a subway, you can only see, at best, 6 or 8 people from your seat. On an off peak bus, like the one I’m on now, there’s far fewer.

In this case, there’s only one, an older woman, about 58 years old. She’s got a large black purse in the seat next to her, which is fine because the 60-person bus has just under two dozen passengers. She’s reading what at first appears to be a newspaper but turns out to be a circular for a grocery store. She has a black ballpoint pen and is circling items beneath the garish light above.

But, again, you can see outside. An armory. A group of men eating at the corner table of a Burger King. A corner store with it’s door open. A middle school. Two people investigating the menu outside of a Chinese restaurant, then entering. A barely-lit church. A full 7/11 parking lot. A Walgreens offering a gallon of milk for 2.79.

The woman puts a navy blue blazer on over her drywall-colored top (with, it must be noted, a rather plunging neckline) and pulls another circular from her purse. She has two bags, both black, one sitting on the floor.

She yawns.

I request my stop, the sign telling me to walk alertly. Innumerable homes with no lights on. A cul de sac.  A baseball field. When I exit she’s the only one left on the bus: in a bus of 25, half the rows unfilled, we had sat in the same row throughout the ride. There’s only one stop left. I know where she’s going, and, if she cares, she knows where I am.

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