I am staying with my daughter in a semi rural community on Vancouver Island. I really enjoy walking the many beautiful trails close to her house. However, there comes a moment when one starts to talk to ravens and then one realizes it is time to go into town. My daughter works and drives in so …. after an hour of poring over the website of BC Transit we decided on a tentative bus route. Much as I appreciate the web, I know myself and my various dyslexic quirks. I need the whole trip back and forth written down. Strangely enough I had to return by a different route than the one I went out on but….who am I to question rural bus companies.
My destination was a Seniors’ Activity Centre in a rather chi chi part of a sprawling fast growing town on the east coast of the island. Bus number 12 arrived on time and a stern lady driver answered my question about the transfer point ( yes, two busses) and told me brusquely to take my seat. I soon found out why as she pulled onto the two-lane highway and drove off at startling speed. There were no poles to cling to, only hanging straps. I plunked myself down hurriedly and noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a young mother holding onto a deluxe stroller with what I took to be a very pretty red-headed baby in it.
When I had adjusted to the swaying of the bus I turned to bestow my best grandmotherly smile on the baby and found … to my surprise that it was a very lifelike doll. It fixed me with its brown eyes for the whole of the half hour it took to come to my transfer point which was rather disconcerting. A sneak peek at the “ mother” made me wonder if it was a sort of therapy doll I had read about for women who had suffered some sort difficulty or trauma over motherhood.
Thanks to Google Maps I could see that I was almost at my first stop. By then a large contingent of teens evidently destined for some sort of vocational school had come on board. They were enjoying themselves immensely, laughing and joking at the tops of their voices. When I got off the bus they gave me a rousing farewell, waving and calling out to me.
It seemed rather counterintuitive to cross the street to catch my next bus. However the stern driver had simply pointed when I timidly questioned the logic of driving back the way I had come. The second bus soon arrived. This driver was even more formidable than the last one. However at least he got us headed off in the right direction. When I approached him to ask a question about where to take the bus back he ordered me back to my seat “ I don’t speak while I’m driving!” I humbly returned. When we arrived at the terminus he explained that he had seen several people seriously hurt as they moved around in the bus. I could well believe it!
I arrived in plenty of time for my Spanish conversation class and was warmly welcomed. The centre was airy, modern and the coffee was pretty good. I am a qualified language teacher and had my own ideas about how the class was run. A certain shyness and a total inability to express a lesson plan in Spanish kept me mercifully silent. Many of the other participants had lived in Latin America and were quite fluent.
Three of the nine participants were French Canadians which surprised me. We were talking about music and one of the gentlemen shocked me by saying ( in Spanish, no less) that his favorite song was a Welsh hymn – David of the White Rock. That was a song my mother used to sing and a nick name she gave to the David who married one of my cousins. Two hours soon passed and it was time once again, to get moving on the busses.
This time there was a half hour wait between busses. As I was sitting quietly on the shelter bench a smartly dressed gentleman with a very cute Shitz Tsu puppy came up and asked me a question about the route. I offered to look it up on my phone – now that I was an expert at getting around this mixed up town. He decided to go with his gut feeling that this was the right bus and we fell into general conversation. Hmm, a handsome man with a cute pup! About my age too! Things were looking up. Alas it soon became apparent that he was something of a conspiracy theorist. No sooner had I squelched his enthusiasm for Putin than he launched into an attack on hospital workers. “Honestly, have you ever really met anyone with COVID?”
Thank heavens the bus hove into view. He stuffed Fido into his carrier and because I really am a nice person ( take my word for it) I warned him that he risked tripping over his dog’s lead which was trailing on the ground.
Apparently my disgusting left-wing ideas could not be endured any more so once on board he struck up a conversation with a sketchy couple who soon let him know he was on the wrong bus. At this point I learned that if you holler loud enough the driver will simply slam on the brakes, pull over and let you off. Fido was, by now, scratching madly at his carrier and as Mr. Trumpster stumbled down the steps, I had a certain satisfaction in seeing that he had not heeded my warning about the trailing leash. We pulled away too fast for me to get the full view I deserved but, never a dull moment on the No. 12. At the next stop Little Mother and her luxurious carriage complete with the beautiful doll got on. This time she was with a friend and with her attention distracted, the doll was free to once again fix me with her unblinking stare.
The bus meandered off the main road and into wooded turn offs where sullen-looking people lurked in shacks reminiscent of Stephen King stories. I was very glad when we finally pulled into the bay next to Discovery Foods . My old stamping grounds! This was where we buy groceries! I hopped off, scuttled across route 19 and ambled home.
“ How was it? Did you manage OK with the busses?”
“You texted me four times, Liz. Every time I told you I was OK.”
“And the class? Did you like it? Are you going again?”
“It was different. Different in a good way. Yeah, I think I’ll go next week . It’s another world on those busses though, right?”
“Ma, you didn’t talk to people on the busses did you? That’s the first rule..,,,”
“Excuse me, Liz but I need a nap. I”ll tell you all about it later.”
Today I didn’t go into town. I went down to the beach. This is what I saw.