Traffic Jams

Bus stop SignLast year I wanted to do an art project. I tested out some recording apps on my smartphone and found a basic, but reliable one. I decided to capture my commute in audio. For one week, I recorded the end of the workday, catching the bus, and walking to my husband’s office. After uploading the files to my computer, I edited them on Audacity. It was fun because I’m a nerd, remember? Anyway. I forgot about the project…until now.

Since I can’t post audio files here on WordPress, I posted the file to the Adventures in Low Vision Soundcloud page. Listen here.

Ride along with me, it’s never boring. What part stands out as you listen? What sound was interesting to you? What are your commutes like? Tell me about it.


Noises in succession of a photo copier consuming paper and beeping, a water cooler dispensing water and air bubbles gurgling in the tank, a phone rings.

Susan: Hello?

Noises in succession of scribbling a phone message ripping a page off a tablet, a wall clock ticks, keys lock up a heavy office door, wind blows.

S: Sunglasses on. Listen for the parallel traffic.

Light changes and traffic accelerates. Susan sweeps white cane on the road as she crosses the street.

Guy in the crosswalk: Sorry, ma’am.

S: That’s ok.

White cane sweeps the sidewalk.

S: The pedestrian always pushes the walk button twice.

White cane sweeps another street.

Susan waits at the corner bus stop and cars pull up to the red light. A car radio plays Trophies by Drake. “…Yeah. Had hit records on my demo…”

A car horn beeps. A bus pulls up to the curb and announces, “Welcome aboard the MTA.”

Lady at the bus stop: “What bus you need?”

S: I’m waiting for the other one, the 59. Thank you.”

Lady: Ok. You’re welcome.

A siren plays. A horn blares.

Lady: That’s it.

Bus driver, opening doors: Not in service.

Lady: Oh, because it still says…

S: Oh, yeah, tricked us…

They step back to wait.

Susan to next bus driver: Hello.

Bus ramp lowered to curb. Fare pass reader buzzes. Susan finds a seat. Bus travels down the road passing Craddock Lane. Fare pass reader buzzes. Children singing skip down the aisle with their mom.

Child 1: Can I ring the bell?

Child 2 No.

Mom: Sit down.

Coins drop into the farebox. Bus brakes. Automated message plays, “Please be advised for your comfort and safety this vehicle may be monitored by audio and video.”

Turn signal. Young men talk to one another.

Man 1: …playing basketball you make $2,000 a week.

Man 2: …Man that ain’t shit.

Man 3: Hey man, it’s something better than nothing.

Traffic noise.

M 1: You work at McDonalds. Shut up.

M 3 laughs.

M 1: And you make two thousand dollars a week? How much you get paid?

M 3: I get paid $8.75 an hour.

Laughter. Bus accelerates.

M 1: A few thousand a week.

M 2: I make a few thousand at the end of the season…What if I get hurt before the end of the season?

Stop request bell rings. Automated message, “Please exit at rear doors and watch your step when exiting the bus.” Bus brakes.

Susan to bus driver: Thank you.

Driver: Have a nice evening.

S: You, too.

Bus ramp extends to curb. White cane sweeps sidewalk. Traffic passes.

Susan at a parking lot entrance: I always wave them thru. Never know if they’re on a cellphone.

Car drives away. Cane sweeps sidewalk again.

S: Don’t want to get hit by a cab.

Wind and traffic noise.

S: Bumper up for the tree.

Her arm brushes low hanging branches.

S: I like a good edged sidewalk.

Susan, walking along a bridge over running water: It’s my little city naturescape. A polluted stream.

Cane sweeps the sidewalk.

S: Oh no, a moving Prius. A blind person’s nightmare.

Cars pass. Door creaks open. Footsteps in a lobby. Chimes.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. herheadache says:

    This is a great idea.

    1. Would love to hear your travels, Kerry!

      1. herheadache says:

        My brother and I have a SoundCloud page for our podcast. Like you, I wouldn’t be able to post audio on my blog, but this gives me a good idea for how I could do it. Soundscapes are very cool things. I’ve focussed on them somewhat lately, to supplement my writing.

  2. Casee says:

    Such a great idea. I love the sounds of the city. My commute on the bus is a quieter as most people are still a bit groggy. On the way home many are zoned out on their smartphones with headphones in trying to forget whatever just transpired at work or in class. 🙂 Me? I have a nice long walk from my bus to home so I’m just getting the old backpack adjusted and the shoestrings tightened and hoping I don’t get caught in a downpour.

    1. A lot of people do seem to be listening to something on their smartphones on the bus here, too. Sometimes the bus ride is quiet, like a sanctuary from the busy streets outside.

  3. Fascinating. Amazing grasp of the technology, Susan.

    1. Thanks, Bridget! I would love to hear soundscapes from your region. A bus ride has it’s similarities and differences depending on where you are.

      1. If I can master the technology I will give it a go. I love listening in to conversations on buses!

      2. Me too! Every possible topic it seems. You never know what you’re gonna hear.

  4. Funerals seem to be a hot topic on one of my regular routes!

    1. So random, but I suppose funerals are a fact of life. Banter on the bus could fuel a blog.

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