I couldn’t get the money together to get my old Dodge truck repaired. I couldn’t afford to fly. So like a good Plain woman, I took the bus and the train. The bus to Bangor wasn’t running from Canada, due to a driver’s strike. Our friend Michael drove me to Bangor, which meant leaving about 2 am, since the bus for Boston leaves at 5 am. I had not crossed the frontier in four years, and we were both a little concerned about that. But it wasn’t a problem. A short car-side interview, off down I-95, stopped for coffee at the last Tim Horton’s I’ll see in a while. (Tim Horton’s is a Canadian owned coffee shop chain.)
Mostly, the bus had students on board, It was quiet. Despite having no sleep the night before, I couldn’t sleep.
People talked to me in the bus stations. They were curious. Plain dressed people often travel by bus, sometimes by bus charter, but rarely in New England. Amish do not fly. Many Old order (Plain) Mennonites do not fly. Poor people like me don’t fly. I had dreaded flying anyway – not the flight part, but the airport part. I am covered in so many layers of clothes – besides the basic undies, there may well be bloomers, slips, petticoats, shifts, stockings, dresses, aprons, shawls, prayer kapp and bonnet.Things are pinned. I would have had to replace all pins with snaps, all hairpins with clips. And then there is the removal of shoes. And bonnets. And shawls and aprons. Possibly, I would be singled out for extra attention, including removal of prayer kapp, which is a terrible embarrassment. I am naked without my headcovering.
I got asked if I was Quaker (yes) and if I was Amish or Mennonite (no). I got asked to pray for people. Yes, I will. The best part was when a young woman hustling for “donations” with a box of stale candy started on her pitch, then sat down beside me, looked me in the face, smiled and said, “Hello, beautiful.”