We arrange to meet at noon. Outside the Central Library to be more precise. She sets off to Day Care. She didn’t want to forgo the mornings dancing class. In order to keep to the noon meet up, I have to catch the 10. 56 am bus. As is usual whenever you are running to a strict timetable of sorts, whenever you have an appointment to keep, when time is of the essence, the bus was late. Nearly ten minutes late. At least I hadn’t forgotten anything. Letter, camera, mobile phone (that’s a first!) bus pass, purse and my watch strapped firmly on my left wrist.
There seemed to be a passenger waiting to get on the bus at every bus stop. The road seemed unusually busy and clogged with traffic. We seemed to crawl into the bus station. I looked at my watch. Half of the town’s residents ambled slowly onto the bus like a line of snails. The other half crawled on at the next stop. I looked at my watch. We stopped at every stop to either allow a passenger to get on or allow one to get off. I looked again at my watch. Time was ticking away.
The young girl on the seat in front was gazing down at the screen of one of her mobile phones. She had two. One in each hand. She shuffled sideways and placed a booted foot on the seat at the side of her. I wondered if she had paid for two seats. Her bag was placed on the other seat as well as her booted foot. A young man sat on the opposite seat to me, he looked about seventeen, had nodded off. Must be tiring work all this studying at college I thought to myself. I looked again at my watch. We picked up another passenger at the top of the hill before dropping down the steep incline into Elland. I would have to ring her if I was late.
The girl in front had long hair. It was draped over the grab rail at the top of her seat. It occurred to me that if the driver suddenly braked and I had to grab the rail, I would probably end up pulling her hair. I wondered what she would do and whether it would cause her to look up from the screen of her mobile phone. She was still busy gazing down at either one phone screen or the other. Nearly everyone seems to spend their entire time gazing down at a mobile phone screen these days, with fingers buzzing around it as they text. Either that or they are have wires sprouting from their ears. Sometimes its both. I look at my watch.
Surely we can move quickly along this stretch of straight road I think to myself but no, we are foiled by a tanker joining the traffic at the junction and moving at a snails pace in front of us until he finally pulls into a garage to deliver his load. We slowly chug up the hill, crawl into town, every set of traffic lights at red, I check my watch for what must be the thousandth time. At last I finally ring the bell and make my way forward to the door.
“Thank you!” I utter to the driver as I step down onto the pavement and hurry onto the Library. I look at my watch. Five minutes to! I am on time! An elderly lady with two shopping bags at her side is sat on the bench in front of the Library. I notice her because of her unusual hat. As I stand waiting, she gets up from the bench and saunters past me. She comes to a standstill on my right and after placing both bags at her feet she peers over the road as if looking for someone. She continues to stare across the road for a good five minutes before picking up her bags and returning to the bench from which she came. She sits back down.
I spy the grey vehicle finally turning the corner. It’s the day care car. Her eager face can be seen peering out of the nearside window and she waves at me, so I make my way across the street to collect her. Despite all those seemingly insurmountable odds, I did arrive here first. I am firmly resolute though that the rest of our days journey will definitely be made on foot!