If, by some mischance, you found yourself without a car in the Bahamas, you might end up waiting in the sun of the island idyll. The heat beats on your head, sweat trickles down your neck.

You see, we Bahamians don't really go in for such niceties as “Bus Stops,” with clearly posted signs and routes, not outside of the “tourist” parts of town. If you're lucky, there'll be a tree to stand under. This author used to have that luxury, on his way to work, before the tree was removed, leaving only a stump. And then the stump was removed.

Depending on your street, and the bus' route, you may see it coming from a long way off. Or it may suddenly burst out of a side street. More on that later.

Common sense would say the drivers should make the legends of their mighty steeds quite visible. Instead, they prefer to make the Route Numbers as ornate as possible, so one struggles to tell if the approaching beast is a 15, 16, 18, 19, or 63.

The leviathan brakes in front of you, with a hiss from the brakes. If any passengers disembark, they will pay right in front of the door, and there will always be someone who steps up to the step just before someone tries to step off. If you are the only person at the stop, you are bound to take this duty upon yourself. Once you realize your error, be sure to move the minimum distance that makes it possible for someone to exit the bus.

This does not, mind you, mean you need to actually move from in front of the door. You simply move back far enough for them to step to your left or right, unless they're someone with a cane, or carrying a child, or groceries. Let none say the Bahamian commuter is not courteous.

Buses in America or the UK are sedate, boring, standardized, practical. Not so the Bahamian bus. As you can see once you step on yourself.

Perhaps there's be fur coating the forward section, near the driver. Perhaps the windows will be tinted a bloody red, or imperial purple, or midnight black. Perhaps there are mirrors on the ceiling. Perhaps the seats are plastered with the logo of some major fashion brand which, you are fairly certain, does not do bus seats. Perhaps some combination of the above.

There is one thing much more likely; the bus will be playing some sort of bass-heavy music at a high volume. Sealing people in a box and playing loud sounds is a form of torture when done for interrogation purposes, and would be recognized as such here if you and the other passengers were not paying $1.25 for the privilege.

This strange sonic state has a simple cause; the man—the driver is almost always a man—in the driver's seat owns the bus. He is lord and master, CEO, CTO, CFO, and caterer, as you can judge from the dark bottle in the paper bag discreetly tucked beside his seat. He is the master of your fate. He is the captain of this bus.

The driver may have a friend. He sits by the door and opens it if the automatic is not functioning, and the left-hand front seat if it is. Either way, he collects fares and makes change. It is not clear what entices these automotive assistants, these wheeled wingmen, these bus Boy Fridays. Perhaps they're seduced by the glamour of it all.

Most of the bus has one row of single seats on the left and a row of doubles on the right, and jumpseats fold down to fill the aisle if needed. Unlike other countries, one does not simply stand on a Bahamian bus in motion. There is one particular seat near the rear, over the wheel wells, with greatly reduced legroom. An especial torment if you're, hypothetically, a tall writer noted for his long legs.

You choose one of the doubles, and the aisle seat thereof. Fall into it, really, since the bus begins moving before you have time to properly seat yourself, which nearly introduces you to the person with the window seat in a very forceful way. This can be mitigated by proceeding down the aisle with slightly bent legs and a lowered center of gravity, at the expense of looking like an idiot.

The Bahamian Bus is noted for its lack of adherence to the posted routes. Time is money. Time flies. And therefore, the bus driver flies. Though side roads, through shortcuts, through worryingly narrow gaps. Certain stretches of road may find themselves entirely abandoned by the Bus, especially during times of heavy traffic. The sheer size and presence of the beast buys it a certain amount of respect from other drivers.

The potential Freudian implications are left as an exercise to the reader.

As their destinations approach, people call out “Bus, stop!” Or perhaps “Bus Stop.” No one is quite sure. Top scientists have yet to determine how the driver hears the passenger over the aforementioned audio system. If at one point, the person is in your row, on the window seat, you must give way. Step out into the aisle, and contort to allow them to pass. if the jump seats are down, those sitting on them may have to step out onto the street to make room.

Your stop approaches. Your hand dips into your pocket or purse for your fare. And due to a mishap, you don't exactly have the $1.25 BSD. What ever does one do?

You reach forward to the person in the next seat, taps them on the shoulder, and go “one from five.” They will nod, take your $5, and pass it on to the next person in a similar fashion.

It is remarkable, how the driver can make change, watch the road, and watch the side of the road at the same time. Sometimes he'll fiddle with the radio, or drink, for variety. In the end, he passes your change back to you, and you pray that your fellow passengers will not drop any of it. This author prefers to simply pass up $5.25, and sit as close to the front as possible.

You approach the door. If there is an Assistant there, and the automatic door is broken, he will probably open it for you. Else, the driver will do the honors, with a button. Hot air creeps in.

If you had had exact change, you would have simply handed it to the driver (or assistant) before disembarking. As it is, you can exit or, as is this author's choice, go “I was the 1-from-5,” to a nod from the driver.

You step off onto the pavement. The door closes behind you. The leviathan leaves, with a hiss of the brakes.

You have done it. You have survived a Bahamian bus trip.

A chill creeps up your spine.

But you still need to get back home…

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