Tag Archives: bus

Emergency Telephone

Rochelle, the moderator of this crazy group called the Friday Fictioneers, just announced that this week is her 3rd anniversary of taking over the reins. Incidentally, it is also my 150th story, which means I started just a few short weeks after she took over. It’s been quite the journey.

I must confess, I have thought about quitting sometimes, especially lately when I’ve been so busy. But I don’t want to, mostly because of all the great people I’ve gotten to know through this group. Also, I haven’t missed a week yet, and I put a lot of stock in precedent. I also think that it has helped my writing by making it more succinct. When you get in the habit of counting every word, you look for the strongest words, those that convey the most meaning. Efficient prose is generally good prose.

copyright Ron Pruitt

copyright Ron Pruitt

Emergency Telephone

The bus was shaking and bumping like a twerking paint mixer. The man in Row 24 leaned forward to Row 23.

“I feel sick. Tell the driver to pull over.”

The man leaned forward. “Tell driver . . . sick . . . pull over.”

“Someone’s sick of wearing a pullover.”

“He knows a chick from Conover.”

“Someone wants chicken and cauliflower.”

The passenger in Row 1 tapped the driver. “Just wanted to tell you, someone in the back took Colombian karate, but the alligators didn’t bite.” There was the sound of retching.

The driver slammed the brakes. “Why didn’t anyone tell me he was sick?”

 

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Describe Your Typical Day

I woke up late, of course. I swear that nothing short of Ragnorak could get me up on time. I have seven alarms, all set in sequence, with increasing volumes. It wakes up the deaf guy three houses down, but not me.

The clock said 7:45 when my brain finally decided to allow my eyelids to open. The sickeningly familiar jolt of adrenaline got me out of bed and into the shower before I even realized I was awake. Ten minutes later, I was out the door, briefcase in one hand, bagel in the other, sprinting for the bus stop.

I couldn’t miss the bus. If I missed the bus, I’d be late for work again, and if I was late again, I’d get fired and if I got fired . . . a dark web of consequences fractalled out in front of me. Can’t miss the bus.

I was 100 meters away when I saw it. “No!” I screamed in impotent rage, like a weaponless berserker. It passed me, not slowing. I threw the bagel at it. No effect. I threw my briefcase, which bounced off the fender. No effect.

An open patch of wet concrete was in my way and I tripped and landed headfirst in it. As I floundered through it, I saw the bus about to disappear around the corner. “Stop, you filthy—” I screamed, adding an arcane racial epithet for Belgians which was both uncharacteristic for me and totally unexpected.

The bus stopped. The driver stepped out. I could tell by the look in his eyes that his ancestors were Belgian.

I made it to work by 8:57, filthy and bruised, but not late.

The door was locked. It was Saturday.


What if…?

 

What if…?

Rick Forrest was driving the Number 45 bus, empty, back toward the garage when he saw a man waiting at a lonely bus stop on the opposite side. There were no more buses that day, so he slowed and slide open his window.

“Hey buddy, no more buses today!”

The man looked up. “I’m not waiting for that bus.”

“This is the only bus route out here,” Rick said. He was about to drive away, when the man stood up and took a step into the road.

“The bus will be here any moment. Do you want to take it too? There’s room.”

You’re crazy! was on the tip of Rick’s tongue, but something in the man’s intent look made him pause. “I have to finish my route.”

“Come on, there’s room. It’s worth it.”

Rick suddenly had an insane vision of himself parking the bus by the side of the road and getting out to wait with the man. Crazy. He stepped on the gas and drove off.

A dark red bus was approaching. He watched it in the rear view mirror as it stopped and the man got on. Then the bus vanished into thin air.

Rick finished his route and went home, but every single day for the rest of his life, the same question went through his head: What if I had gotten on that bus?

 


A slice of humanity on the bus

All writers should take the bus, at least every now and then. Or the subway. Really anywhere where you can observe a lot of different people up close. I take the bus almost every day and I see some interesting people.

Last Thursday, I was taking the bus out into the countryside to one of my four schools. I was sitting in the back when a mentally handicapped man and an older man got on and sat down next to me, the  handicapped one closer to me. He was interested in my book and pointed at it and gave me a thumbs up. Then he motioned to the older man and said, “He’s my dad.” This caused the older man to start laughing, so I didn’t know if he really was his father or not. I just said, “Oh, really?” “Oh, I see” and such things, since he kept saying it.

A lot of the people on the bus were older and seemed to know each other, so I felt like I was in kind of a community meeting. Then the handicapped man said, “He’s fifty” pointing to his “dad”, who started laughing even harder and said, “Yeah, I wish I were fifty again.” I really liked the older man; just a jolly sort of fellow.

A middle-aged woman came back, and saw there weren’t any seats left, so I gave her mine. Her husband was still standing up, with his backpack on. “Hey groom!” she yelled (Korean woman often call their husbands “groom”, although I’ve never heard a man call his wife “bride”). “Hey groom! It’s going to be a long ride. Take off your heavy backpack.” He took it off and put it on the floor with a grin. “That’s my groom for you,” she said. I saw other older women smiling and nodding as well. They understood.

The two men who were sitting next to me got off a few stops before me and the handicapped one gave me an awkward high-five. I smiled and said good bye. I went back and sat where they had been sitting and the woman I had given up my seat to apologized. I’m not sure why but possibly because she thought the handicapped man was bothering me. “Not a problem,” I said. “It’s okay.” And I meant it. I may never totally fit in here in Korea, but I do enjoy being a part of things anyway.

*

By the way, a few days ago, I posted something called The Mystery on the Bus, recounting another experience I had on a bus coming home from school. I asked people what they thought was going on. The first virtual high-five is for Carmelita, for the wackiest idea (I almost wish it were true), and the second is for EadesyBeadsy, for what I think is the most likely answer. Good job!

High five!

High five!


The Mystery on the Bus – A true story

This is a true story, just to put that out there right away. I was on the bus a few days ago, coming home from school. In  Korea, there are no school buses, so most high school students use the city buses. My bus was crowded with students and although I had a seat, it was just a solid wall of people in front of me.

I was looking out the window when another bus passed us. That bus driver looked at our bus and his mouth formed a perfect “O” of surprise. I was just wondering what he could have been looking at when a second bus passed. That bus driver looked over with a wide grin on his face and actually took his hands off the wheel while driving to applaud. I have no idea what they were reacting to, but it was intriguing.

So, help me out: what do you think they were looking at? The best answer in comments wins a virtual high-five.


Little things that make me happy…like China

I’ll bet you never thought of a country with 1.3 billion people as a little thing, but it’s all about context. I’m one of those people who loves the accomplishment of collecting things and checking things off a list. That’s why I really like the WordPress map feature, which shows you which countries viewers come from. I have gotten some pretty obscure ones, like the Palestinian territories, or Reunion island, etc. However, never any from China. Obviously, WordPress is blocked there, especially since I’ve had lots from Hong Kong.

But then, a few days ago, I saw that I had one view from China. One single view, but it was enough to color the whole country in on the map. That made me really happy. I kind of wonder who it was who saw my blog, whether it was someone high up in the government checking up on me or something. Probably nothing that cool, but it still has me wondering. Here are some other small things that make me really happy.

If you know any bloggers in Greenland, I want to be their friend.

If you know any bloggers in Greenland, I want to be their friend.

Seeing the 121 bus: There are five buses that go past my house. I ride the bus almost every day and most of them I take pretty regularly, except the 121 bus. It only runs a dozen times a day, so it’s pretty rare to see it. I’ve only ridden it once in five years. I was really happy that day.

I've read many a book on buses like this.

I’ve read many a book on buses like this.

Finding out Minecraft Steve is the same height as me: For those of you who don’t play Minecraft, the basic guy you play is called Steve. Some people did a calculation based on various things, and found out that he was 185cm or 6’1″, which is how tall I am. I like that fact.

We're basically twins, is what I'm saying.

We’re basically twins, is what I’m saying. (Source: http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f81/xilefian/360steve.png)

Are there any little things that make you unreasonably happy? Let me know.

 


4 Reasons I Don’t Like the First Week of School

I think I’m a pretty positive guy. I try to look on the bright side of things. I only say that because I don’t anything to think of this as a gripe. It is merely a chance to share my unique work situation.

Here in Korea, the school year starts at the beginning of March, so I have just finished the first couple weeks of school. And I am very glad about that. I know a lot of people don’t like going back to school (students especially), but there are several unique factors for a foreign English teacher in my position that makes the first week of school a lot less fun.

1. Getting to school

I don’t have a car. If I did, this would not be an issue. I do have a motorbike and the bus system here is very good, but still, it takes a while to get everything straightened out.

I live in a city of about 600,000, but I work in the countryside around the city, which means I can’t walk to my schools. In times past, some of the teachers would pick us foreigners up, but they usually don’t like doing that anymore, and honestly, I don’t like getting picked up. Even if I have to take a bus, I like to be independent. I can ride my motorbike to two of my schools (I work at four different schools) because they’re relatively close, unless of course it’s pouring rain or a blizzard or the bike’s broken. In other words I have to know how to get to all my schools by bus.

Unfortunately, all of my schools are in different directions and I have to transfer buses to all of them, so I have to coordinate two bus schedules to make sure I get to the transfer stop before the second bus gets there. All this for four different schools which start at different times. I ended up being to late to one school and having to take a taxi to another one the first day in order not to be late.

Wanju work map

2. People assuming I don’t know anything

I’ve lived in Korea for nine years and have taught public school here for five years so I pretty much know what’s going on. I speak the language, can use chopsticks, know the bus system, and everything else you need to survive. But I’m not Korean, so everyone naturally (or not) assumes I got off the plane yesterday. I don’t necessarily blame them, since there is a high turnover rate for foreign English teachers and so a lot of us are fresh off the plane. Still, the first day or two at a new school is invariably the same.

“Can you use chopsticks?” “Oh, I think that food is too spicy for you.” “Oh wow, you can speak Korean!” “Do you know how to take the bus? You do? Wow, how do you know?”

And so on. Again, I’m not trying to criticize the Korean teachers, but it does get tiring when you go through the same routine again and again and again.

3. Not knowing anything

Even though I know a lot about Korea and public schools in general, every new school I go to has its own idiosyncrasies, for one reason or another. One of my schools is built like someone found the plans to the Labyrinth, thought that looked too straightforward and kicked it up a notch. Schools all start at different times, one has lunch after three periods instead of four. Some have English classes in an English room; others in the classrooms. In other words, I do some wandering around sometimes, asking people a lot of questions like where the bathrooms are and what the password to the class computer is.

One of my schools. It looks straightforward, but it's best to hire a Sherpa if you have class in one of the far buildings.

One of my schools. It looks straightforward, but it’s best to hire a Sherpa if you have class in one of the far buildings.

4. Introduction class

In elementary schools in Korea, there are no classes on the first day. The homeroom teachers are getting to know their students and getting them to color name tags or doing other icebreaker activities, so I don’t have to teach. In middle school, there are classes on the first day, but the teachers don’t want to start the textbook, so they say some variation of, “Just introduce yourself today.”

How long does it take to introduce yourself? Not the whole 45-minutes of class, that’s for sure. Even if I show them the Introduction to my Hometown powerpoint that I have, it only takes five minutes. Now I have been teaching long enough that I come prepared to get the kids talking and fill up the period but it tends to be awkward and I do the same lesson over and over again. I’m not complaining, but I’m always happy when the first week is over so I can get into real teaching.


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