“Nobody in the movies spends any time on the bus.”
Squished in my seat and grateful to have one on this packed bus, I consider this offering from my subconscious. It isn’t true, but it points to a truth: movie-bus time is nothing like my commute. Movie-bus time has some redeeming quality, advancing the story, literally or emotionally.
Movie-bus time is nostalgic: corn fields near harvest roll by on a homeward-bound trip. Or sweetly romantic: a guy watches his childhood friend sleeping, and realizes that This is Love. Or heartwarming: a woman fleeing an abusive husband confides in a seatmate and gets an encouraging word. And an apple.
And if it isn’t any of these, then at least it’s blessedly short. Cross-town trips take only seconds of screen time, and cross-country trips wrap up within minutes. There’s no down time in the movies. I want some of that world.
What might my day look like as a movie screenplay?
I grab my designer bag, and glance in the mirror at my professionally applied make-up (Wait! I’m wearing make-up? Sorry, sorry. Carry on.).
I lock the door behind me and arrive at the bus stop two blocks away, without having walked the intervening distance. My hair looks great.
The bus comes immediately and I board. The bus driver calls me by name; I ask after his children. It is rush hour. There are three people on the bus.
Seconds later, I disembark downtown, and arrive immediately at my office, four blocks away.
I greet the building manager, who clearly loves his job of sweeping up after smokers, and head inside.
I get off the elevator, having never gotten on, lurched up eleven floors, or stopped three times to let other passengers off.
I sign in at reception, get a security badge which colour-coordinates with my outfit (Wait! I’m wearing an outfit? Sorry, sorry.) and walk the last four steps to my desk in the far corner office.
I trade quips with my assistant, a single mother with big hair. She follows me into my office (Wait! I have an office?) to brief me on my morning meetings.
One second later, my boss’s boss drops in unannounced. He asks my opinion on an important matter of corporate strategy and nods thoughtfully when I give him my off-the-cuff but insightful answer.
Five seconds later, I get up to go for lunch with three close friends: a gay and/or black guy (It’s an American screenplay.), my feisty but warm-hearted female direct supervisor, and a lovable-loser female colleague. I have not gone to the bathroom since arriving at work.
We emerge from the building onto the street without having used the elevator. The breeze blows my hair away from my face, becomingly.
We are shown to our seats in the restaurant without having argued about where to go, or having actually gone there. My hair does not look as if it was just out in a breeze.
A witty waitress takes our orders and brings our food amazingly quickly and correctly, amazingly. We drink wine, but show no effects from it, and talk remarkably candidly about our love lives. We never mention work. No bill arrives.
I am back in my corner office, without aid of sidewalk, elevator, or bathroom stop.
Two seconds later I solve a tricky computer problem for my assistant.
Three seconds later I regretfully turn down a colleague’s last-minute invitation to the opera, about which I am super knowledgeable. Two seconds more and I pack up for the day, one of the last to leave.
I take three steps down the hall, and emerge from my building onto the sidewalk without having waited for the elevator, or stopped at every floor. I have not used the bathroom all afternoon.
Having teleported from my building to the bus stop, I run the last few steps to catch my bus. At the height of rush hour there are six people onboard. None are talking to themselves.
My image reflected in the bus window looks thoughtful, or maybe afflicted with a secret sorrow. For five seconds, charming neighbourhood scenes flash by. Then I disembark and immediately arrive home, two blocks away, walking up the driveway.
Still wearing my work clothes and heels (Wait! I was in heels all day?), I’m in the kitchen making dinner, although I have done no meal planning nor bought any groceries. I have not used the bathroom or washed my hands since getting home.
The Big Guy arrives home from his golf game. He makes witty remarks about having had his worst game ever.
Three seconds later, we are finishing our gourmet meal, lingering over our balloon glasses of red wine. We show no effects from drinking. The TV is not on. There are no leftovers; we do not wash any dishes.
I reach over to turn off the lights and lean back on two over-stuffed designer pillows, lovely in my negligee. My hair does not look as if I am lying on it. My make-up is still on.
For four seconds, I sleep serenely. I do not drool on my pillowcase or get up to use the bathroom. I wake up, happy and energetic, with my make-up intact and my hair combed.
Three seconds later, I am at the bus stop.
Oh, yeah. I want some of that world.