No matter the weather, he wore a t-shirt (fitted tightly over rounded belly) with shorts and flats. Sometimes he wore a sweatshirt. His sandy beard he kept unkempt. His bus, however, was immaculate.
I saw him often—on my way to and from home. He drove the 103M, the minibus between Tseung Kwun O, the closest MTR station, and Clear Water Bay. he’d circle, letting passengers on and off, waiting in the dimly-lit parking garage for people shivering or sweating to fill the bus so he could take them home. While he waited, he’d wash the bus windows. Sometimes, he’d whistle.
We never talked—my Cantonese is not so good—but I know he knew me. He knew before I called “Som yo-!” where I got off. He was kind and would stop at the school’s entrance rather than making me walk from the bus stop up the hill. (More often than not I was carrying groceries.)
And I used to wonder, bumping along in the back of the bus, listening to foreign chatter and the screech of brakes and the clatter of the door opening and closing; watching rain drops fall or mists emerge or sunshine sizzle off pavement . . . Had he wanted to be a bus driver?
To me, it seemed a terrible job, circling endlessly along this route: starting and stopping, opening and shutting, mindlessly jerking along.
And so I asked a good friend. A local. And his answer surprised me: He’s probably never even thought about it.
This is his job; it’s what pays the bills. This is his contribution to society. As a child, he probably wasn’t taught to think:”When I grow up, I want to be a . . .” His happiness is likely his bed and a bowl of rice and pork or noodles, or maybe his family and the TV.
(Oh we Westerners and our dreams.)
- learning from a legend (jesscy.com)
- superyou (jesscy.com)
- finding a balance (jesscy.com)
- the beauty of pain (jesscy.com)