It’s a bit funny (not in a ha-ha way, I believe) that in the morning I asked Ironedshirtman about Pak Cik and Squeeks, but hey, later in the late afternoon, I found myself going home earlier than expected and I didn’t actually need Squeeks today.
I came to the station using the back route (which again, I must explain, meant I arrived from the front of the station). I saw OldMan’s bus parked at its usual spot, I saw a Bau bus (whose driver is actually a relative, but I doubt he recognises me even though I had just attended a wedding at his residence last year and we shook hands and he gave me a pat on my arm with that handshake—but then again this isn’t the main story here), and then I saw Spaceship. It always feels like my heart is dropping when I see a bus and another bus and I really hope the last one that I see is Spaceship. Surprises are not fun.
The Bau bus left at that very same moment, and I was walking towards Spaceship, and that again made me feel unshielded, exposed, vulnerable.
I almost took out my phone for a photo (I still haven’t succeeded at taking a selfie with the bus..) but then I saw some movements on the bus. Ironedshirtman wasn’t on the driver’s seat. He wasn’t anywhere around the station too. It couldn’t be Milhouse because Milhouse always sits in front. It could be a passenger. But a larger part of me said it was Ironedshirtman.
And I was right, because as I got closer to the bus, I saw Ironedshirtman sitting on the passenger seat, on the 3rd row or so. He wasn’t napping, because I saw he had his head up, but I was just glancing so I didn’t really see what he was really up to. I reckoned he saw me, because logically you can’t be invisible when you’re walking in an open space.
I didn’t want to pass him by because that’s just awkward for a socially awkward person. The middle door was opened, which was a great sign, but an unusual sight because Ironedshirtman almost never lets his middle door opened.
And so I climbed the steps and entered through the middle door, picked the seat just right after that door, and sat there pretending I didn’t see how Ironedshirtman dropped something and struggled to pick it up for a good 5 seconds because obviously when you’re sitting on a passenger seat with such a small legroom and your height is above average, it’s hard to bend down.
He then left for his usual routine and I was like yassss I am the king of the bus! because I was now alone, completely alone, on a bus that feels like home. I rarely get the chance to be alone on buses like this, so when I get it, I do what I really love doing. I snap selfies. Selfies to show that I am a VIP on a limo. And I snap photos, because no one’s there to judge what I’m doing. And what’s great is that from where Spaceship was parked, I could see when Ironedshirtman comes back, so I could pretend I was behaving myself, like how I used to warn the whole class in Form 2 when I saw teachers coming because my seat had a great view of the stairs up the hill and I could see teachers from hundreds of metres away.
Since there was really nobody else, I grabbed my bag and moved to the Elite Passenger Club Member seat 2.0, the one I was sitting on this morning for my ride to town. This might be my new favourite seat, in fact.
I saw Ironedshirtman coming but surprisingly he still headed to the shop even when he already bought his drinks. I noticed there was a plastic bag containing one bottled water and one canned drink dangling at his door. So I assumed he was looking for snacks.
I was still the only passenger when he came back. Tragic, but it makes you feel like a VIP. This time, thankfully he didn’t sing Tidak ada olanggg because if he did, I still wouldn’t know how to react to that. He just smiled at me as he climbed the steps, a smile he had always been giving to any of his other passengers. It’s the classic Ironedshirtman smile.
As I handed over my money, he handed over the ticket, then had to dig in his bag for the coins as my change. He randomly grabbed a bunch of coins. I reckoned his bad eyesight is troubling him again, causing him to single-handedly try to separate the coin that he wanted from the coins that he didn’t need, tossing them like how you flip a pancake on a pan.
It was a pretty relaxing ride, the kind of ride I really love. Near Kuching Central, there was an aeroplane that had just took off, and it seemed so near, as if I could extend my hands out of the window of the bus to reach it. Nearby, the trees were being cut down, at that very same moment we passed by. Dust flew around. I took a deep breath and held it before the bus whizzed past the area.
No one sat in front of me, not a single soul from the beginning to the end of my ride. This of course made me happy. I was the frontmost passenger, and that very rarely happens.
When we reached my stop, I rang the bell anyway, remembering how sitting in front doesn’t necessarily mean that Ironedshirtman would remember I was there and needed to be dropped off. I said my thank you as usual, and he replied with an OK, which was a satisfactory response, I must say.
And that was my one hundred and fifty-third ride of 2017.
Seat: Elite Passenger Club Member Seat 2.0