Translated by Samuel Fick.
Since life isn’t always a fairy tale sometimes I have to go to work. To go to work I take the number 11 bus every morning at 7 :11am precisely and as I pass through the automatic doors I step into a fascinating microcosm of the world. A microcosm on giant wheels. A microcosm that only exists for the eleven minutes—give or take a few—that it takes for me to arrive at work. A microcosm always populated by the same eleven characters.
Obviously there is the driver, in whose hands rest the well-being of this mini-world. The driver is not always the same person, but the driver is always Black, which seems to be the only requirement for being the bus driver in this mini-world. There is also the “dealer” of old bus tickets, the person with their shoes in tatters, the woman who cries out the names of the passing avenues she sees through the windows. They all think it’s the best mini-world in the world since there aren’t yet any tourists who speak too loudly and who don’t know where to step off of the mini-world into the great big world.
There is the young student who meticulously re-does her hair before going to her all-girls high school and who sometimes asks me for any spare change so she can make a dollar from the loose pennies and nickels she has found at the bottom of her backpack. She thinks the world is not very fun nor very fair. And it’s true: if you have to take the bus in the United States of America it’s likely that your life is not the easiest.
There’s the sad gentleman with tattoos completely covering his face. He doesn’t smile much, which is understandable since there is not much to laugh about in his life. He went to prison. He even killed people. I have been told that’s why he has tears tatooed under his eyes : one for each person he has killed. Though he may be gentle at his core, I think he is a little dead inside. He moves furniture for a living because it helps him to clear out his head. He always has a small khaki lunch box, which intrigues me. What could be inside? I can’t quite imagine what someone so sad could possibly eat. Maybe the lunch box is empty.
There’s also the old Hispanic woman who talks on the phone with her old friends, the big lady who always has a bruise around her left eye, the fellow with slightly crossed eyes and a cup of coffee, the person who cries and laughs to himself without stopping, the student who wears his pants below his waist because even if you wear a uniform it doesn’t mean you can’t have your own personal style, the young, pretty nurse who sits up very straight in her uniform with her ID badge near her heart, and the zookeeper with her lunch in a plastic bag.
And then, of course, there’s me who imagines the lives of all these people during the eleven minutes (give or take a few) on the bus that transpire outside of time and before I begin my nearly eleven hour long workday.
I’m going to tell you a secret: once there were even butterflies on the number 11 bus at 7:11am. Eleven million butterflies to be precise and the mini-world became magical in addition to being simply fascinating. In the end life is always a sort of fairytale.