the night asphalt, or the secret life of the common city bus (omnibus vulgaris)

imagine the city as a huge place of intertwining asphalt rivers, rivulets, pools and lakes, inhabited by a multitude of vehicles.

bus in riga

the largest species, native to the city, is the common city bus (omnibus vulgaris). representatives of the species sometimes reach the size of the larger lorry (vector viator), and are definitely urban in appearance and habits. unlike their cousins the inter-city bus (omnibus viator) and the town bus (omnibus rusticus), the city bus are long, low and can bend in a number of places along the spine to follow the more intricate pattern of sharp bends characteristic to its environment.

the asphalt rivers abound in four (or more) wheeled mechanical life-forms in daytime, when they surge in every possible direction, following pre-set and orderly courses, congregating in larger car-parks, aggregating along the blocks of flats towards the evening for a night-time rest.

but the city bus have different nocturnal habits. they can be often observed on their customary routes as late as 2 a.m. and as early as 4.50 a.m. . the city bus are driven my some mystical purpose, and seldom seen stopping for longer periods of time. if the observer is careful and cautious, they can actually find larger pools of asphalt, where the bus rest between journeys or routes. it is in such places, that one can watch the secret rites and habits of the city bus.

this far very little has transpired, but i would like to share my findings.

the city bus are naturally shy. they close their eyes of flame and try to fade into the background when not on active trek.

the city bus are territorial. not only do they have markings on their faces and sides outlining their customary route, but each bus has a favourite space in the bus-pool, which space is rigorously guarded and seldom occupied by other buses.

the city bus kindly accept ministrations from lesser life-forms. they like being washed, and fed on diesel, and brushed up, and handled gently. they show their appreciation by snorts and hisses, and a certain willingness to take to the road again.

when the buses think nobody is looking, they share stories. they have the use of a limited body language, mainly postures, and a set of grunts, hisses and rumbles they successfully use to communicate the experiences of the day, and confirm some tribal identity by meta-stories. if the buses become conscious of any watcher – and they are extremely shy and observant – they cease their stories immediately. this, probably, explains why there is no bus-lore transcribed and published.

and sometimes it is so much fun to watch how the buses come in from their routes to the darkness, and settle in their lots, and grunt to a brief sleep between journeys, leaving only the little orange lights along the sides dimly glowing.

and i wonder, what do the city buses dream of? maybe they dream of the sea, and whales, and hunting plankton?


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