Three Bus Incidences: Downed Passenger, Unbroken Eggs and Stolen Mobile

Several weeks ago I witnessed an older woman fall to the floor of the bus because of a sudden stop made by the bus driver.  Unfortunately, there had not been enough people to catch her fall. All the surrounding passengers inwardly sympathized with her once she was upright again.  She had lost her wig in the process and tried to restore whatever dignity she had left by setting that aright. Her shoes had also fallen off, obviously she had really been caught off guard.  Put back together again, she continued digging around in her purse for the bus fare money of 50 tenge (equivalent of 33 cents) but she was angry with the conductor who stood at the back door taking people’s coins. 

I don’t understand Russian very well at all but I think she said something like , “since I lost my dignity with that last sudden stop and slammed to the floor, I shouldn’t have to pay my fare!”  That arguing went on for a minute or so. She wasn’t getting anywhere with the young conductor, so she marched up to the driver and gave him a piece of her mind she couldn’t afford to lose.  Moral of first story, you always hang on for dear life since you never know when the bus might jerk to a sudden stop.

Second incident was when the bus was JAMMED packed with people one evening several weeks ago. I was leaning over one lady who was sitting with a bag on her lap.  I held on but wouldn’t have had to because of the press of the people around me.  But because of the press around me I looked down to see this lady give me a cold, withering look similar to Munch’s “The Scream” but not that desperate.  I thought to myself, why did she look so angry or scared or both?  I thought, this must have been what it was like when the Jews were herded into train cars and so much humanity was given so little of their own personal space.  Another jerk of the bus and I looked down at the lady again, apologizing, as if to say that I didn’t have any control about where my elbows or body might land in her space.  She opened up her bag to reveal 10 eggs loosely sitting in a plastic bag.  I smiled, she smiled back. I understood her glowering look that she had given me earlier.   I hope she made it out of that bus that evening with unbroken eggs.  Moral of second story, buy your eggs closer to home and don’t take something so fragile on a crowded bus.

Last Friday night I was dog tired and it was raining when I got on to a packed bus going up hill in Almaty.  I should have let it go to wait for the next less full bus but I was eager to get home.  I squished myself in with the mass of wet humanity.  During the ride I mused how nice it is to trust people and know that my section of town had more honest people, not to worry about my purse.  Twenty-four hours later, on Saturday night I discovered that the twitch that I felt of my purse meant that someone had STOLEN my four year old Nokia that had great sentimental value to me.  In 2006, my husband had given me an ORANGE cell phone in memory of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.  All I ever used it for was calling but mostly texting my friends in Almaty and using it as a flashlight in our dark stairways.  I had saved favorite text messages that were gems to me from friends or students.  Now someone had stolen it but I was satisfied to think that they got a mobile with a dead battery and don’t know my password.

Yesterday I went through the busy work of restoring my old number and having the 1,000 tenge I had just deposited in the account put back on my new SIM card.  My Russian is not good enough to know that THAT was free, I thought they had told me earlier that I would get a free cellphone to make up for the loss.  Not to be! I went down the block to buy the cheapest mobile, made in Romania, available at over $100.  It has all the bells and whistles you could ever want.

I don’t want all the extras, I just want my cheap, clunky orange cell phone back.  Now I have to spend time figuring out the new VGA camera with zoom features.  Program the FM radio station so I can play the Kazakh and Russian stations.  I am inputting all the contact names that I lost and I already put a new screensaver on with my new fangled camera that I used taking a photo of the KZ flag.  I can also interview people by recording their voices and use this mobile with Internet (if I pay for the extra package deal).  I already have an iPod touch so that is superfluous.  It has Bluetooth and GPRS connectivity with MP3 ringing tones.

I just want my simple cell phone with the flashlight feature (haven’t found that yet on my NEW mobile) BACK!!!  I really do suspect that cell phone companies perhaps hire thieves on Friday evenings when the busses are packed to lift such items from peoples purses or pockets.  It creates more sales yet keeps the customer frustrated.  At least this one is frustrated with learning how to use all these things that I don’t need. (I only got a Russian instruction manual) Now I have to carry an extra flashlight along with my iPod Touch, Olympus camera, Nokia cell phone.  Modern technology, does it really free us up more?  Moral of story: No, we are NOT more free with so many digital items to keep track of from being stolen.

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