To and from Suzdal, our group took a public bus. As a person from a small town who goes to college in Northfield, Minnesota, my experience with public transportation has been quite limited up until this this trip. The bus itself was normal, and seated around twenty people comfortably. Our group alone had fifteen people, and so most of the bus was quite full without everyone else who also needed transportation to Vladimir.
We had arrived to the station thirty minutes in advance, and our professor bought tickets for all of us. We all were supposed to have seats except for one person, which wasn’t really a problem. The ride itself was 40 minutes, and we could switch out with people if the person standing got tired. At least, we thought we could. The people with seats sat down first in the bus, and then those who got their tickets later filed into the bus. More and more people got on, and I saw a couple students from my group stand up to give their seats up to some older passengers. The bus was packed.
The seat I was in faced inward, towards the center of the bus, and directly in front of me stood two young women and their children. They were trying to make the best of a sticky situation, laughing it off and exclaiming at how crowded the bus was. Their children had very different reactions to the experience. As the bus got going and the people standing swayed back and forth, trying not to fall on top of one another, the daughter visibly became increasingly uncomfortable while the son stood stoically. As more people crammed into the bus at the next stop, we somehow made more room on our seat and the little girl sat next to me. I felt bad because my purse strap kept falling off of my shoulder and hitting her on the head, but there was really nowhere I could put my purse.
I feel like the phrase, “packed like a can of sardines” wasn’t adequate to describe our situation. We were almost overflowing.
As one man sang without fear of judgement from those around him and another lady yelped every time the bus door opened because it almost squished her into the side of the bus, I wanted nothing more than to get off the bus. At the same time though, I loved the experience. It was awesome to see the effort people would go to in order to ensure the comfort of others, and also how no one really wanted to turn anyone away: if someone needed to get on the bus, they got on the bus. There was one stop where the people waiting there simply saw how full the bus was, chuckled and waved it on.
Here’s a haiku to describe the journey:
Too many people.
Yeah, we can fit a few more.
Sorry little girl!