At the bus station they wait in a shambling line for the double decker bus to turn up. In front of me is ‘Rock Chick’ with the bleached blonde hair, she plays with her shop worker ID badge as if its a VIP pass for the last concert she attended as she flirts with ‘1D Boy’. She wears a leather bikers jacket even in the heat of the day and has a black leather bag slung over her shoulder, it has chains and studs and the requisite leather fringe. This bag is the personification of her and as she sways slightly the fringe swirls around her arm.
Of course she’s swaying towards him, ‘1D Boy’, he’s cute in the way that a boy band member would be and he knows it as he scuffs his foot over the floor letting us see his pristine kickers. He’s not into her, but he does like her and if she plays it cool, maybe she could sway him round.
‘Woman who doesn’t care’. She’s wearing a bright orange shirt with a black bra underneath, her hair is scrunched back and wrapped up in a band. Her shoes are scuffed, lacking in polish and her trousers hang down, baggy at the knees. She’s got a suitcase with her and multiple bags. As she sits on the bus she scoffs a packet of peanuts ravenously with barely a glance around. It’s easy to see she’s let herself go, the bra doesn’t fit right and looks uncomfortable. She doesn’t even bother brushing the crumbs from that bright orange top. I want to say something but what? The clothes I’m wearing are nothing special and the make-up I scraped on to my face must have been gone by now.
Across the aisle is the grandma going to a wedding. She has bags of posh clothes and one of them contains a hat. The feathers that trim it tickle her hand as she places her aged hand through the handles. I offer to help her with her bags, she has that many, but cautiously she replies no, that she can manage.
Rock chick and 1D boy head upstairs at his urging, still chatting, she’s still flirting. It’s not a late night bus where they might want to escape for some privacy, just a busy one. Next to Wedding Grandma is sleeper woman. She glances around the bus, all seats are taken except the one next to me and Wedding Grandma. She chooses that seat. I’m wondering if I’m giving off a vibe that says stay away but five minutes into the journey I’m glad she didn’t sit with me when she suddenly dozed off.
I’m glancing around looking at them, sexy schoolgirl has gone upstairs. She’s let her hair down after having it in a pony tail all day, the give away sign is the small kink in it at the nape of her neck ensuring that bounces as she moves. When I saw her at the bus station I was stuck by the way she adjusted her skirt, lowering it to the correct length and flattening her school blazer so she looked somehow more pristine. She’s just a kid but her eyes are older, wiser and sadder, like she’s discovered the secret of the universe but it’s not as good as she expected. She carries both a briefcase and a handbag, and instead of tucking it away in one of them she’s also got a small shopping bag from a well known store as if as a condition of purchase she has to advertise the store. She’s just a kid but she seems tainted making me wonder what her story is, could it be she’s just trying to fit in at school? Aren’t we all trying to fit in somewhere?
Also whilst at the bus station, Rockabilly Dad strolls past. You can tell he was a rocker back in his day as he walks past, leather jacket clad and jeans with a black belt tucked around. His shoes are polished and leave small smudges of black polish on the tiled floor. The bright silver buckle catches the eye of the aviator club made up of three youths sitting on a silver bench nearby. They are dressed like rejects from a boy band and have chosen to wear matching aviator sunglasses. These ones are waiting for another bus, and as I get on mine one of them finally removes his eyewear to reveal a black eye. You can’t tell from his body language just how scared he is inside but his eyes give it away. Whoever hit him is still out there and he’s just a young lad, barely a teen. I can’t say anything, I don’t know him but I know that inside me a piece of my soul has died at the way our society is losing it’s innocence and it’s trust and even a sense of self.
There is a lot you can learn from people watching.