We take the city bus to school. There are two busses we can take and we only go 5 stops so naturally, we see quite a few other kids on the bus. The school is not that large and the uniforms are unique (red and green plaid shirts with a green collar). So even if we don’t recognize someone from one of our classes, we now know the kids and parents (or their helpers) who also ride the bus.
The mornings are busy. There are many busses on the road and all kinds of commuters commuting. Even if we are running a bit late and we don’t see anyone from school, there is a sense of collective movement that is comforting.
The afternoons obviously, are less busy. The morning rush is over and there aren’t quite as many busses running. Still, when I go to pick up the kids, there is always at least one mom from school on the same bus as me. It can feel a bit Groundhog Day-ish. Until yesterday.
Yesterday, there were no familiar faces. It was very unsettling. After each stop, I thought for sure at the next stop I’ll see someone I recognize. I double checked the time. Maybe I’d read the clock wrong and it was only 1 pm. Or maybe it was 4 and the afternoon got away from me. It had not. It was nearly the exact same time I ride the bus every afternoon.
Were all the moms out lunching together? Did they plan some big Christmas shopping outing and not invite me? Were they relaxing together at someone’s pool? For three months, there has always been at least one other school mom on the bus with me. Where were all the moms? Maybe there was an emergency at school I somehow missed.
I actually felt slightly relieved when I got to school and everything was functioning normally. I felt a bit like Dorothy moving between the reality of black and white versus color. My time on the bus was some alternate reality and stepping into the bright afternoon sunshine made me laugh at my ridiculousness.
Why was not seeing one familiar face on my familiar bus route so unsettling?
Was it my “moment” in the elevator? Five minutes prior to getting the bus, I was momentarily stuck in the elevator. This has happened twice now in the elevator that is perpetually “under maintenance.” The doors open for you, you hit one, the doors close and you go nowhere. You try to then open the doors and nothing happens. You hit one again and it lights up but you don’t move. You try opening the doors again, a little more urgently and still nothing. You press again, on the edge of frantic, ready to hit the red emergency button when the doors finally reopen. Intellectually, I know I haven’t moved and there is no need to panic but for those 18 seconds, I go dumb and panic. I ended up taking the stairs. Unsettling.
Was it this scene I passed earlier in the day?
Those are only just a few of the construction workers who had taken over a small park to nap. There had to have been at least 50 of them, completely silent, seemingly dead asleep. (These men were smart enough to seek shade. Others were just baking in the sun, fully clothed, asleep.) When you are the only person walking amongst 40 grown men, fast asleep, in the middle of a sunny day, it leaves you with an eery feeling. They were lined up head to toe to head to toe on the sidewalks snaking through the park and did not flinch as I flip flopped by. I wondered if I’d just walked into another Heaven’s Gate party. Unsettling.
Or was it the ambulance? The ambulance with its lights flashing, sirens blaring, sitting at the red light waiting for it to turn green? Singaporeans are rule followers and ambulance drivers are no different. They are not allowed to break the rules of the road…even if they are transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital. I’ve been told that years ago (before the rules), an ambulance was racing through a red light and caused a huge accident and so they rewrote the laws saying that ambulances can only run red lights if it is not endangering anyone or else they risk getting fined. (Apparently, the endangered person they are transporting doesn’t count as much.) But I cannot find anything to confirm this. Either way, I’ve seen it time and again. Ambulances lit up and whaling, but moving along steadily with the flow of traffic. Also unsettling.
So it felt like one of those days when the universe is trying to tell you something, I’m just not sure what. Aliens are coming and have targeted construction workers in Singapore as their first victims? Even if you can get out of your elevator, don’t bother calling an ambulance because that will get you nowhere fast. Take the bus and know that if no one you know is there, they’ve already been taken? That’s probably not it.
I’m afraid friends, I have no pearls of wisdom to impart. There is no real lesson learned. There is no moral to my story. I think it was just one of those days. But I’m on alert, keeping my eyes and ears open, Universe.