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A Bus Experiment

in Writing

Sanctuary, Sort Of

    Sometimes our personal sanctuary can be found in the last place we’d expect.

Start: It had been a while since I’d ridden a city bus.

Seven weeks ago in my work life I contemplated using public transit for my daily commute. There’s a bunch or reasons, but really what it came down to was figuring out if the Clark County transit system is a viable option at all.

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not the coolest place in the world. We actually get snow once in a blue moon, but it’s almost as rare as an honest politician. We’ve entered the serious heat of summer now (we hit about 112 degrees F. in June when I embraced this idea) and the real question was if I could tolerate the heat that must be endured in walking the couple of blocks to the relevant bus stop.

My wife thought I was an idiot for doing this: “But we’re in the middle of a heat wave!” I can’t say I blame her for feeling protective, but this is summer in Las Vegas — and exactly when, here, is it not a heat wave?

My normal “weekend” is Wednesdays and Thursdays, so it only made sense to me to duplicate both legs of the commute on one of my days off, which I did.

Speaking in generalities, of course, it seemed like around half of the passengers were involved with the cell phones or devices — but that’s pretty much anywhere, nowadays. One passenger in the morning had a Kindle, I think, and I thought of asking, but the tone in the morning seemed like everyone was uncommunicative. Someone would sneeze, and there were no volley of bless yous, in any language, in response.

No business suits, no white collar types (criminal or otherwise), no obvious tourists. Mostly young and mostly old. And, yes, Anglos appeared to be in the minority.

Fortunately no gibbering wackdoodles or fervently passionate religious and/or political reformers.

And did I have any great cosmic insights?

Well, there’s this: I wrote the majority of this post on that evening’s commute, tapping away on my BlackBerry with my thumbs, several minutes of which I was hearing a low level of profanity in the background from a phone call by a gansta rapper wannabee. But beyond that it was a fairly quiet experience. One thing that came into focus was that if I’m doing about an hour a day passively riding to work, as opposed to 40 minutes a day actively sweating out the drive in this city of lunatics, then maybe I can get some meaningful writing done.

As it has turned out, more often than not, I can.

A Refuge in Time

Sanctuary, Sort OfIn the seven weeks since I wrote the original draft of this post, I’ve made this same bus route my normal commute. I’ve seen a few wackdoodles after all, have overheard about six people altogether talking about what jerks parole officers can be, and sat across the aisle from two young, attractive women … er, girls, really … talking about how much money their guy leaves them out of what they make.

Yeah, a whole different world. I suspect some of this world will creep into my writing. When it comes to writing, everything is material.

If you’re a writer, a writer who hasn’t reached the place where your writing sustains you, using public transportation for your commute — if it’s practical for you — might just be worth considering. We try to squeeze what minutes out of the day we can, but always the needs of the workplace and the homestead seem to trump our need, the need to express ourselves, to capture that little time where the magic happens. But here, in the sometimes crowded, sometimes deserted aisles of the buses and trains of public transit, we can give the demands for our time and energy the blessings of our middle finger, and do, in our secret place of creativity, what we damned well please.

• • •

Copyright © 2015, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.


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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller’s short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

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