It’s quiet. On these winter nights, it feels like the entire city is asleep. Save for a few cabs drifting through the streets like downstream washaway, there really isn’t much going on.
I’m looking up at the windows of buildings. Some of the lights are still on. I guess people are awake, their tv-screens glow like little microwaves. I wonder what’s going on up there, what’s keeping them awake.
Oh, here comes the bus. I think it’s the last one for the night. So empty, but thank god it stops. I don’t feel like walking. I guess it’s just me and the bus driver.
“Late night, huh?” I say to him. Why did I say that? What response did I expect from him?
I swear I had my wallet in my right pocket, but it’s not there. It’s not in the left one either. Oh, shit, yeah my backpack. Here it is. I grab my metrocard and swipe.
“Sir, does this bus stop on 147th street? I’m going there now, will it leave me there?” I ask him.
“Yep. Goes straight down St. Nicholas. Since it’s just you, I’ll stop when we get there. Otherwise, I won’t be making any stops.”
“Thank you sir.”
I stand beside him and hold onto the rail. There is something about the bus driver, but I can’t tell what it is. How many hours must he be into his shift? Could you imagine being a bus driver? I sometimes wonder how people end up in places where they end up.
“Sir, do you like being a bus driver?” I ask.
The question seemed to catch him off guard a little bit.
“What do you mean if I like it? It’s what I get paid to do.” He responds.
“Well, what would you do if the money didn’t matter?”
“I think I would be a mechanic. I’ve always loved working with cars. I understand them. When I was home I was a mechanic. I come to America, bus driver. Every thing is different here, not many opportunities.” He says.
“Then why did you come here? Where is home for you?”
“Hong Kong,” he says, “and because of money. I need money to send to my family from home. My wife, my kids, my parents, they all need money so I have to drive the bus.”
A man journies this far, leaves everything behind, to drive the bus to pay for everything behind. We make sacrifices, but when do we know the purpose, the real why?
“Why don’t you be a mechanic here then? At least you could still make money and send home, and be happy.”
“Happy? You have a lot to learn, kid. Nobody is happy. Nobody that has to work to support family is happy. But family, you love them and this is what you do.”
“How long has it been since you’ve seen your family?”
“4 years, and you haven’t seen your kids, your wife?”
“How come? How could it be so long?”
“Tickets are expensive. It could cost $2,000 for me to go see them, and I spend 2 days in travel time so I can only see them for a little bit. Here is your stop.”
I turned around to leave. 4 years. And $2,000 is all he needs to see his family. Who could agree to that?