The streets are crowded and the sidewalk is crowded, so it isn’t really a surprise when the bus arrives and, hey, it’s crowded. That’s the difference that ten minutes can make. If I’d left my apartment on time I might have even been able to grab an actual chair, but as it stands, well, I’ll have to stand.
There’s no room as the glass doors open, but I step onto the bus anyway and room is made. The door tries, unsuccessfully, to close, so I begrudgingly take off my backpack and let it dangle by my feet where there’s more room and more likelihood that it will be stepped on.
Once the door actually does close, I can’t reach any of the hand-holds. So I lean against the glass doors and resign myself to shifting uncomfortably when they have to open, but that should only be for a stop or two. The sea of passengers turns into a slow-moving river as people get off through the back door and passengers are gradually made to flow towards the interior of the bus.
We get to the stop next to the train station and a flood of people get off. My stop is two blocks down. The doors close as one last person tries to leave, which prompts a time-honored ritual on Israeli buses.
The passenger calls out for the driver to open the door, but the driver doesn’t hear. This has two affects: 1) other passengers join him, and 2) pronunciation immediately degrades.
The driver still doesn’t hear, and the bus starts moving. This happens sometimes, and it gets the passengers even more anxious. The chorus increases.
But the bus keeps moving. I look over to the driver as the passengers behind me sound more and more like a flock of geese. It’s a dreary commute on a dreary day, and while I feel bad for the guy that wants to get off, I don’t feel like giving myself a headache over it.
Normally by this point, people will give up and stop calling for the bus to stop. What’s the point if the bus is already halfway to the next stop? But behind me, I still hear the squawking.
And then a ruffling of feathers.
I turn back to the door where the passengers were calling, and they’re still there, but a few of them have wings instead of arms. And one has a beak. That can’t be right. I look back to the driver, and everything seems normal at that end of the bus, but when I turn back there is a full-fledged gaggle of geese flapping around where the passengers were, still honking.
I look back to the front of the bus, a bit more desperately this time, and the windshield disappears. I can feel the wind from the road on my face, and then the roof disappears as well. The sides of the bus follow, and then the floor.
I’m free-falling for a few seconds, but my instincts assert themselves and my wings catch the wind. I look down and see a world far below me, full of moving people struggling through their own respective commutes. Above me is just a canvass of shining blue. Around me are more geese, calling out to the expanse around us, and I join in.