I usually try not to say where I’m from on this blog, but the title simply wouldn’t work without the word “Haze.”
So. I went home for a few weeks not too long ago. Home is Hazleton, Pennsylvania. I hope that narrows it down for all you serial killers on the internet trying to hunt me down and rip out my entrails and such.
While home, I was absolutely determined to ride a bus, all for the love of blog. So… I did!
Of course, I got lost trying to find the bus station. I’m regularly baffled by just how much better I am at getting around Baltimore, where I’ve spent two summers, than I am at getting around Hazleton, where I’ve lived since I was six. Meh, such is life.
When I found the station, the bus was sitting there, ready to depart. The destination? The Laurel Mall. It’s like a normal mall, except smaller and without any bookstores because Hazleton is awful and no one reads there.
….That might be a slight hyperbole, especially coming from someone who worked in Hazleton’s library for two years (and still loves it and thinks it’s one of the best libraries ever), but that’s ok. This is a blog. No one takes blogs seriously.
The first difference I noticed between Hazleton’s buses and Baltimore’s buses was the money-collector-machine-thing. In Baltimore, those are automated. The one in the Hazleton bus was not automated. Instead, it was literally a plastic box with a slit in the top. I don’t know if all of Hazleton’s buses are like that, but it kind of weirded me out. Fortunately, Hazleton’s fares are cheaper than Baltimore’s, so I was quick to forgive the weirdness and board anyway.
The first and most predictable difference between the people on the Hazy bus and those on Baltimore buses was the ethnic difference. The second was the “small-town” feel vs. the “big city” feel. Baltimore isn’t huge, but it is more huge than Hazleton, and though some people in Baltimore know the drivers personally, I don’t see it all that often. It was different in Hazleton.
“20th Street for me, John!” The old man was wearing a white tee-shirt tucked into olive green pants. He also had on a black ball cap and old man sneakers (It’s a brand. What? You didn’t know about Old Man Sneakers?). “No, 20th, John, this is 19th, I think. 20th for me, John.” Old Man was sitting near the back with two other Old Men. They all seemed to know each other and the bus driver. “Right here, John, here at 20th St.” After calling out this final direction, he walked off the bus, having finally arrived at the much-acclaimed 20th St.
A little Hispanic boy in a red and white striped polo was sitting in a stroller in the center aisle. When he dropped his bottle on the floor, I picked it up for him. His mom, whose nails were vivid blue (from nail polish, not illness), thanked me despite the cel phone she was holding to her ear.
A few minutes later, he dropped it again, and I’m pretty sure he looked at me before he did it. I felt flattered.
An overweight woman in blue yelled into her phone, “I’m not giving you $100! I’m not giving you $50!” She proceeded to argue about money for much of the ride.
“See ya, Frank!” the bus driver called as Old Man 2 got off the bus.
It was then that I looked back and realized that I recognized the third Old Man. I had seen him in the library before. On this day, he was wearing a dark blue, long sleeve, thermal shirt, dark jeans, and blue canvas shoes. He had brown, rather stringy hair, and when he got off the bus, he more shuffled off than walked off. He was carrying a black bag that looked like a small body bag, but that doesn’t mean anything! There could have been anything in that bag. Just because it looked lumpy and body-shaped doesn’t mean that it was, in fact, holding a body. It was probably laundry. Yes. Laundry. Or something else that wasn’t a body.
An Old Man apparently unconnected to the Three Old Men got off a bit later. He was wearing a sweater and had a jacket over top of it. For some reason, I always assume that old men with white hair who wear sweaters with jackets over them are from the UK. I’m not sure why. I blame the BBC.
When I reached the mall, I found myself in a slightly uncomfortable dilemma. The dilemma was this: I didn’t actually want to be at the mall. As everyone knows, malls are no fun without parents around to buy stuff for you or friends to share your boredom and make it slightly less boring and slightly more awkward. I had literally ridden the bus solely for the sake of riding a bus. Now what?
I waffled around for a bit in the mall entryway before lurking back outside to see if there were any other buses headed back into town. There weren’t. The one that I had just left was still there, but I wasn’t going to re-board it, because then the bus driver would give me a weird look and I would feel oh so embarrassed.
I therefore resigned myself to the inevitable and wasted the next fifty minutes drifting through the mall. I didn’t even have a book with me, because I had somehow overlooked the fact that I would have to do something between bus rides. I did get to pet puppies though, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.
On the ride back, we made a stop at Wal-Mart, which is at the bottom of a hill. Instead of pulling right up to the stop, however, we barreled down the hill and into a side parking lot. It kind of creeped me out, because the lot was pretty abandoned and shady-looking.
Was the bus about to fall victim to some sort of mass kidnapping? Was the driver really a -shifty glance – sinister character?
Then some guy in a back brace waved the driver around and I realized that we were just there so the bus could turn around. It was a relief, though somewhat anticlimactic.
The only other interesting thing I saw on the drive home was the Greater Hazleton Kidney Center. The Greater Hazleton Kidney Center should not be funny at all. It sounds like a very serious medical establishment. Still, being the mature person that I am, the name made me giggle. Greater Hazleton apparently has a lot of kidneys. So many kidneys, in fact, that they need a center.
*sigh* I will grow up, some day, I really will.
While driving through town, I pulled the cord a bit early, as the bus passed near my house on the way to the station. To my surprise, the driver stopped almost immediately at a place that had no “bus stop” sign. I thanked him profusely and walked off into the late afternoon sunshine, thinking that Hazleton was a pretty nice place after all.
Thus ended my Hazy bus adventure. Stay tuned for more Baltimore-based content, coming soon (or whenever I feel like it).