Though the pictures and experiences below may seem to relate the post to a specific area, it’s message is universal, it’s locations found all over America.
We have no names. You see us huddled next to the tilted bus sign, rain or shine, below freezing or above 100. We’re there when you enter the supermarket. We’re still there, sometimes, when you exit. Then, in a puff of diesel exhaust, we’re gone.
And it’s like we never existed. Our only trace is an indentation in a patch of unnaturally green grass between Captain D’s and Southern Police Equipment.
Where do we go? What do we do?
Work, usually. We’re the ones that cook your “fresh grilled salmon” at Long John Silver’s. It costs about what we make in an hour. We fold the clothes at Rainbow that you won’t buy until there’s a half-off sale. Even then, your outfit is worth more – probably – than a day’s work. We’re cooks, cashiers, servers, and low wage factory workers. We have names, but who looks at our name tags?
Some of us, the lucky ones, are off to college. We’re students. We might be a year into our Master’s, though we’re thinking about switching majors. Or, maybe, we’re studying to be teachers or coders. We’ve signed up for FASFA. We’ve signed up for student loans to the tune of millions.
Maybe one in four of us will graduate.
One of our dreams once we graduate, of course, is to own a car. And a nice suburban house.
Of course, if we miss the bus – which comes, if we’re lucky, maybe twice an hour, but sometimes not for an hour and a half – we could be fired, fail our test, or have our kids come home to an empty house. There goes our dreams. Anyone who’s ridden the bus often knows that sinking feeling when you turn the corner and see the bus speeding off, that disdainful look and talking to the bus driver will give you if the he or she stops.
“C’mon now, I get here every day at 8:30. You’re gonna make me late. I got a schedule!”
Forget that it’s 8:28, or that the bus rolled in at 8:41 yesterday. You’re at the overworked, grumpy bus driver’s mercy. Welcome to the bureaucracy.
Next time you see us walking across the driveway of a shopping center, no sidewalks in sight, try to have a little patience. We have a long walk in front of us, and an even longer bus ride. We’ll be waiting to transfer onto our second bus for a good half-hour, at least.
I don’t think waiting an extra ten seconds for us to cross will kill you.
There are few developments more inhuman in scale than a six-lane road with a median the size of the Grand Canyon. Bear with those of us humans that are forced to grapple with it daily.
It’s a strange world out there.