Driverless Bus

And here we go again. The buzzer goes off and I have to get up to pour the coffee, to prepare the breakfast, to put my make-up on to get ready to earn money just so that we can buy a TV, a better bed, a new laptop.

My work life sucks out my livelihood just so that I can experience the happiness of shopping for a few hours per day. Just so that every evening, I can use my new laptop to surf the Internet to find something that might be of some interest to me. Just so that in the little bit of free time I have, I can find something to keep me interested enough not to think of the next day where I will be dealing with yet another day of work and the routine built around work.

After marking my eyes with the eyeliner, once again I pray for the future to arrive sooner. A future where I will be all groomed for the day by pressing one button. I laugh at myself thinking of the silly inventions of the sixties. Trying to brush off the feeling that I am doomed to live in the present that I would like to get over just so that I can arrive to that point in the future where my real life will begin. The real life that I will be enjoying every day. Where repetitive sentences will no longer exist.

I look at the mirror and hope that the smile will last me through the day, even when I get scolded for a comma I might have forgotten in the papers that I have typed. I hope that I can keep smiling even when I find myself reading file after another file with the same meaningless words and wonder why I had chosen to study for so many years. I wonder if just figuring out how to read and type was not enough to carry out the job that I have to do.

 At work, I turn on my computer and go through the files that are sent one after another incessantly. The time to leave is determined by the moment when I decide to overlook the e-mails that keep coming and make a move to turn off my computer. The thing about my work is that I already know what awaits me the next day. Before I leave for home, by looking through the e-mails I keep receiving, I can tell what I will be doing the next day.

Sometimes, I forget to look through the mails. One day I realized that although I had no solid idea about the schedule for the day, I already knew what to expect.

After work, once I can squeeze into the crowded bus, cramped with tens of tired looking fed up employees, I suddenly feel a little bit of excitement building up in my chest. The sort of excitement I used to feel as a kid, when I went to bed and dreamed about my future. My mother always told me I could be anything I wanted. My mother used to say this to me, the person I trusted most in the whole wide world. The person who would never lie to me. She must have believed it herself. Probably she saw some spark in me, some sort of accomplishment, the feeling that she had created a being that could walk, talk and take care of itself and even love. This being, her greatest achievement must be entitled to a bright future.

Thus, filled with confidence listening to her words, I dreamed myself an astronaut, a great ballerina, a famous physicist. In each dream, I would be smiling and shining.

That was the sort of excitement I was feeling in my chest when there was a sudden screech and the bus came to a halt. Noone moved, waiting for the bus to start again. Instead, the engine stopped and along with it the AC. A few minutes later, as the air was getting denser, and it was more and more impossible to breathe in the bus, a little bit of commotion started to stir the passengers. A few people tried the door while others watched. “Hey, driver! Open the door! We can’t breathe in here,” yelled one watcher. A response resonated from the front part of the bus: “Driver is outside checking the engine!”

We waited. By following the noise outside the bus, I tried to figure out the driver’s whereabouts but to no avail. It was completely quiet outside… Within the bus, people had started making calls on their mobile phones, asking for a friend, a spouse, a parent to pick them up in their car. Those who knew no one were calling taxis.

Completely unprepared for this change in my daily routine, I had still not reacted… Someone forced the front door open and one by one everyone got off.

I could hear some cars stopping by and car doors slamming, picking passengers who had just gotten off the bus. When it was finally my turn, there were only about 5 people left and by the time I had found my mobile phone, it was just a guy and myself left. After typing a few numbers, I looked around and realized that we were in the middle of nowhere. This was part of the city that was devoid of all residence. There was nothing in sight but one long and dark highway, lighted up only at one point by the bus headlights.

This road connected my neighborhood, the residential area to the city center where all the offices in tall skyscrapers were situated. Everyday, more than one third of the city’s population commuted between the two areas.

Today, a certain fraction of one third of the population was going to be late for dinner. Especially two of them would be very late.

“Hello?”

My mother answered the phone.

“Mum, I-” and my phone turned dark.

I was left in the middle of nowhere with a driverless bright bus and a complete stranger…

To be continued… probably…

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