Cruising home as the last light leaves the sky, I fiddle with the radio punching through the five preset stations. The number on each button is starting to fade from frequent use. I am searching for a song with feeling and words that I know in hopes of singing along. As a musical simpleton, new songs are a little frightening unless sandwiched between tried and true billboard hits, lending credibility to a newcomer’s radio worthiness. Nothing catches my attention and I continue in my possibly fruitless search for a suitable jam. I roll to a stop at a traffic light and take my turn waiting for green.
It is completely dark now. The street in front of me is illuminated by the headlights from my car and a dim light inside of a covered bus station. I am alone with my thoughts and a whining voice coming through the radio. Next. I hit another preset button not tried in the last thirty seconds. A commercial comes on with two sisters trying to sell used cars for “just pennies down.” Next. A radio dj reads the news, it’s all bad. Next.
I used to be so good at waiting, I waited for letters to come in the mail, I waited for the internet to dial up, I waited for my turn in our single bathroom, I waited to get older. Now, I can’t even wait the minute at a traffic light without feeling impatient or the ability to remain present.
I remember a pack of gum in the center console, unwrap a piece of hard Juicy Fruit and peek at the light. Its still red. Red as Dorothy’s slippers and I am uncomfortably bored, alone and back to changing the radio station. Boredom is a killer. It drives a need for distraction from reality and in between that wasted space, the minutes turn into days into months and years and suddenly there is a lifetime of waste and perhaps an awareness of how life could have been different.
Then I am not alone or bored. Someone is tapping at my window and I shriek.
A short, squat woman is tapping at my window. The dim light from the bus stop is enough to outline her face, covered in sweat, with a broad nose and wideset eyes that are so dark they look black. She is intensely focused inside of the vehicle which was previously no more exciting than an empty cardboard box.
“Roll down the window,” she yells and makes a rolling motion with her arm.
I shake my head.
“What do you want?”
She points at her wrist, “Time.”
“Me too,” I smile and give her a thumbs-up.
Or maybe not, I sure have wasted enough of it to make a person wonder.
She throws her hands up and yells something encouraging as I drive off. I don’t look back, green means gun it and go. There’s no time to waste.