“Thank you,” I said to the bus driver as I stepped out of the bus. He was my regular driver whom I saw everyday. I walked home down the same path I walked everyday. I wondered when I would actually be free. Free from this routine. I saw the bus everyday, making its usual stops, picking up the passengers. I loved seeing different people of different ethnicities ending up on the same bus on way to the same destination. Seeing them made me think about all the different streets and neighborhoods I had never seen. I thought I must do something to break the boredom. All the same, I did not consider it wise to launch myself on a voyage ‘on an uncharted sea’. It would be too risky for my age to want to become ‘a Columbus ’. So I looked up the map and decided to visit any area of middle-class and lower-middle-class residents.
Honorable Mention 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
I picked up my bag, and of course my phone and told my parents I would be back soon. After that, I was off. Off to see parts of the world that I hadn’t seen before. It was hard to believe that my aforesaid journey would deeply affect the course of my thinking which may give a new turn to my life. I have to admit that it was scary being on the bus alone. I’ve been on buses before, but this bus journey indicated my freedom. It showed me that I was an adult, that all that mattered was what I thought. Not knowing where I was going made me have courage and take a stand to make my own decisions.
I saw many different people on the bus ride, some rich, walking fast, keeping their heads held high; those who knew where they were going and what they were doing. I thought about how sure and confident they were, being able to stand on their own, not needing anyone’s support. I saw white collar workers, well-dressed, neat and clean. I also saw people doing manual jobs with their soiled hands and earning their livelihood by the sweat of their brow. They were not affluent but were quite dignified in their bearing.
When it came for the bus to stop at its last stop, I got off and walked down to the New York City Subway. There, in the station I saw other types of people. Some had no legs, no arms, and some made money by pleading on the train. Helplessness was written large on their faces; they did not know where their next bread would come from. These kind of people depended on others to know what they would be eating that night. I wondered how one route we take can change our entire life. I had never seen this kind of environment before because I was being taken care of by my parents. I saw the kind of struggles one has to face in this world.
On my way home, I stopped at a store nearby and got an application for a job. I was motivated to make my life the way I want it to be, and know that if anything went wrong, that I wouldn’t blame anyone else. Being on the bus made me see how blinded I was to not being able to notice the hardships one must go through, and to know that nothing comes for granted.
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