#3 Street Drama

I made my way to the bus station after rehearsal one evening.

I tuned my Spotify to something brainless and walked slowly on the sidewalk as I saw a car hastily park right in front of me. An infuriated girl stomped out and slammed the door. She raised a middle finger through the passenger seat window and sped walked as the car accelerated–I couldn’t tell who disappeared faster. She was wearing heels.

It took me a moment to make sure they weren’t filming or I was delusional, imagining a scene from a cheesy drama. Baffled, I made it safe to the bus stop without seeing more dramatic action.

I hopped onto the cramped bus and the only seat left was the boss seat, aka the very middle seat at the very back of the bus where no one wants to sit because you’ll probably fly out but if you do sit there you pretty much look like the boss of the bus. My feet was hurting so I locked onto my prey and sped toward the seat without hesitation–until the last moment.

I saw two teenagers sitting on either side of the boss seat, chatting away cheerfully. My brain did a quick calculation of the awkward meter then ruled it lower than my feet pain-o-meter. I parted the googly eye contact of two teens.

It also crossed my mind that if these two really liked each other’s company, then they would proceed to move, not have some stranger come between them. Plus, if they really wanted to talk, they could do it across my face, I couldn’t care less.

But none of these analyses took place. Their smiles faded. It was as if they planned their conversation to end exactly as I sat down. Their googlies transferred onto their smartphones. It was as if I pressed mute.

I’m not saying that it was my fault that these two kids stopped interacting. I don’t feel responsible. Nor am I saying that staring at one’s phone is a crime. I, too, am a phone starer once I’m on the bus.

Maybe I was expecting the boy to stop me for a second to move to the seat next to her. Maybe I really wanted to see two teenagers having an innocent chat on public transportation. Maybe I wasn’t expecting two disconnections in one night.

There’s this really old soul in me that believes smartphones should be banned when you’re hanging out with someone. And then there’s this “always talk it out” corner in my brain that speaks louder even if my heart says no. Perhaps that old soul and that little corner became really offended at all these weird scenes happening around.

I had a long day, I was probably really tired. I’ll just stop analyzing everything next time.

At least the girl waved a sincere goodbye to the boy as she got off at her stop.


#2 Little Amie in Korea

I’m not lying when I say I don’t remember too much of bus rides in Seoul City before I was six. I know our family rode around plenty of times but they all are bunched up in this part of my brain called Before Taiwan. However there is this one vague conversation mum and I had after a bus ride. She accidentally got us off at the stop before the should-have-been stop.

“It’s such a long way,” she worried my legs would fall off.

“We can walk, we’re missionaries now!” I said without much thought as we walked. Our walk happened right before the Move and all I could ever say was the fact that we were going to be missionaries and we were going to Taiwan. Those two facts actually wouldn’t hit me until much later but they sounded good in my ears those days. It just made sense for me to be someone going to a different country. If I could go to another country, a little extra walk couldn’t hurt me. Little Amie Logic.


#1 The Origin

Every bus ride is an adventure and it all started with an episode…

Surprisingly I don’t remember too many bus rides from when I was tiny in Korea. They probably just weren’t as traumatic as the one I call the ride that stared my Taipei City life.We only just got settled in Taipei. Dad was busy with his seminary and umma would take me around the city.

These were the days without cell phones and “just Google Map it” where we, well umma, tried to figure out routes with her amazingly non-existent Mandarin skills. Of course, that didn’t matter–I was six and I trusted umma with all of my heart. It wasn’t long until that she would shatter my trust in her by taking the wrong bus.

We’re going to a department store, I remember umma saying. Department stores were my favorite–they had toys and McDonald’s, the two universal languages of little kids. I put on my comfy sneakers and asked umma for my orange-on-white Easy card. I held her hand tight as I asked her which number we were going to get on. Here is where my memory becomes a blur, she said a three digit number with the combinations of 2 and 6. For the story, let’s say she said 262 (as a matter of fact, a real bus number) so as I saw the gargantuan bus approach, I swung my arm up and down and followed umma into the mysterious 262.

It was 10 minutes into the ride that umma realized that we took the wrong number, thus the little confusion of 2s and 6s. All hell broke lose and little Amie began to bawl, sitting on the second front seat next to a window on the right. Umma crouched down to meet my eyes and tried to explain that we could get off the bus now and get on the right one. Like I would you trust you, is probably what I shouted, and I bawled until the-very-very-wrong-262 reached it’s last stop. At this point, the bus driver asked if we were getting off but little Amie said no, we’re going back to where we came from while umma said but Amie we can get on another bus. Little Amie with her sobbing face was convinced, that she knew better and umma with her 2s and 6s was too stupid to know how to get anywhere. Little Amie just knew she had good logic, and her umma just wasn’t good enough.

As I sniffled away, the wrong-but-correct-262 swung round back to our house. Now I felt safe to get off and take the other bus, 266 or something.

The funniest part of the story was that umma didn’t get angry. Although this memory is marked with fear and confusion, there is no hint of the rage of umma. On the contrary, even though I couldn’t trust her knowledge, I trusted her heart. I trusted that she would keep me safe and get us to the department store and back home. Amongst this strange feeling of being lost, there was warmth and comfort.

So did we get to our intended destination? Yes, I had McNuggets with my Happy Meal toy, it was probably a plastic Hello Kitty.