Sunday, February 07, 2016

BUS STORY # 483 (Moving On)

Photo by Busboy

She’s just wrapping up a phone call when I get to the bus stop bench. I sit down and look south. I know perfectly well the bus isn’t due for another ten minutes, but being preoccupied by something in the opposite direction is my ceremonial gesture of granting the woman some privacy.

She finishes her call, puts the phone in her purse, then says, “This is a great day. I’m moving into a new apartment, and I’m really excited.”

I say something supportive, and she tells me how she had to get out of where she’s been living. She’s had spiders and cockroaches, there’ve been break-ins -- not her apartment, but all through the complex. She says she’s breaking her lease, but she doesn’t care, she’s had it. If they take her to court, she has her medical records showing all the spider bite treatments she’s needed since living there.

I ask her where “there” is. It’s a familiar name, a collection of apartments in the area with signage advertising cheap rents.

She asks me if I know when the bus is coming. She doesn’t usually ride this route, but she’s going to pick up her keys to her new place this morning.

I tell her the scheduled arrival time, and she tells me she’s enlisted her son to help her move into the new apartment next weekend. She was hoping for this weekend, but he and his wife had plans.

We talk about the weather. She says something that makes me think she hasn’t been here all that long.

In fact, she’s been here forty years. Came out here when she was 10, along with her mom and dad and a bunch of brothers and sisters and a dog and a cat.

The bus comes, but I find a seat across from her and ask her where she’d come from.

Long Island. They were on their way to Orange County, California, where her dad’s mother lived. But they ran out of money in Albuquerque.

Her dad found a job in just three days. Then they found a house, and some furniture, and here she is this morning.

She says her brothers and sisters have all gone back to visit, but she hasn’t. She doesn’t think she wants to because her family told her the school she went to is all closed up, and all the trees in her neighborhood have been cut down.

But she does have an old neighborhood friend who moved to upstate New York and who pesters her constantly about coming up to visit. But she just can’t afford a trip like that.

I ask if her friend would come out here.

No. She wants her to go up there.

Her stop comes up and she pulls the cord, wishes me well, and heads out the rear door. I wish her luck.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

BUS STORY # 482 (Card Not Valid)

Photo by Busboy


A woman with a grocery cart boards and runs her pass through the slot.

“Card not valid,” the machine says.

She swipes it again.

“Card not valid.”

She tells the driver she just bought this card and there must be something wrong with it.

People are backed up waiting for her and the driver tells her to go ahead and have a seat for now.

She sits on the bench seat behind the driver, with her cart in front of her. People have to turn sideways to step by.

When everyone has boarded, she stands back up to return to the till.

The guy sitting across from her hands her his bus pas. “Here,” he says, “use mine. It works.”

She takes the card up to the driver and swipes it.

“Card not valid.”

She tells the driver the machine is broken because “his card” -- she points to the guy sitting on the bench seat -- doesn’t work, either.

The driver tells her she can’t use another rider’s bus pass. And besides, the card reader has been working just fine all morning.

She shows the driver her card and says she just got it. I can see from where I’m sitting it’s one of the monthly senior passes.

The driver takes her pass and looks at it. Then she puts it into the activation slot. It gets pulled down into the slot, then pushed back up. The driver takes the pass and hands it back to the woman.

“You have to activate it before you can swipe it,” she explains.

The rider then starts to swipe the pass.

The driver tells her she doesn’t have to swipe it when she activates it the first time.

The woman starts back to her seat, hands the man his card back, and says, “I guess we got that taken care of.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BUS STORY # 481 (New York State Of Mind)

Downloaded from Gastrolust: Writing on (Eating in) the City of New Orleans.


I’m going back to New York City 
I do believe I’ve had enough.
 -- Bob Dylan, from “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”


My daughter told me this story which she heard from a friend in Brooklyn.


Myra* is a born-and-bred New Yorker. The first time she lived outside the city was when she got a job teaching at Tulane, in New Orleans.

After moving, she had a number of experiences -- getting an apartment, getting her utilities set up, and so forth -- which impressed upon her just how far from New York City New Orleans really is.

It was so different she had a difficult time thinking of it as part of the United States, and she ended up imagining it was really an island nation off the coast of America.

Because she’d lived in NYC all her life, she didn’t know how to drive. So when she got to New Orleans, she had to take the bus until she got her license.

The bus, like everything else in New Orleans, proved to be very different from what she’d known from back east. Her favorite story happened one morning when she was on the bus going to work. The driver pulled over to the side of the street, went into a corner store, re-entered the bus with a paper sack holding what everyone could see was tall boy, popped the top, and resumed driving his route.

Laissez les bons temps bus rouler!

__________


*Real name changed.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

BUS STORY # 480 (Shorts 43: Overheards)

Rapid Ride stop on Indian School east of Louisiana

I’ve overheard a lot of things on the bus. Some are funny, some are heartwarming, some are poignant, some are sad, and some are downright depressing.


***

Fragments of a phone conversation on a crowded Red Line one Wednesday evening: “She’s goin’ away for five years...The guys who hired her were the ones who gave the video to the FBI (laughs)...Her roommate’s got a little bit of a conscience, but she’d never rat her out...No, she’s not a lesbian -- I don’t know why her girlfriend never figured that out...Maybe she will be by the time she gets out (laughs).”

***

From two high schoolers in a group of four, two boys and two girls, sitting in the back of the bus:
He: “You’re a bitch.”
She: “Don’t use that word.”
He: “Why not? You know you are.”
She: “It’s not nice.”
He: “You’re still a bitch.”
She: “I am not.”
He: “What are you, then?”
She, pausing: “I’m a whore.”
The word “whore” dissolves into a nervous giggle.
It’s been months now, and the exchange still depresses me.

***

On an only relatively lighter note, here’s another teens-overheard from the F train in NYC from the Dilettante archives of Mike Daisey:
Tween girl #1: So like apparently my brother is engaged.

Tween girl #2: Really? Since when?

Tween girl #1: I dunno, found out at breakfast this morning.

Tween girl #2: Didn't he like just finish high school?

Tween girl #1: Yeah, but she's like still 17 and she's got a two year old so she's way worse off than him.

Tween girl #2: Well is it his kid?

Tween girl #1: Who knows? He's not tellin'.

Tween girl #2: Probably is...what a man-ho slut wedder.

***

Bus stop bench at Zuni and Washington

***

Overheard at the bus stop at Louisiana and Lomas:
1st rider: “Golden Corral is giving veterans a free meal for Veterans Day.  Only they’re doing it on Monday, not the day.”
2nd rider (who is wearing a blue cap with ‘Veteran” on the front and along the bill): “That’s good to know.  I think Applebee’s did that last year.  Me and my wife went.  I had to pay for her, but we got dinner for half price.”
1st rider: “What you need to do is to hit the one at Central for breakfast, then the one on San Mateo for lunch, then the one over on Coors for supper.”
2nd rider: “Yeah.  Eat all day for free.”

***

Overheard during a discussion between two riders disagreeing about just how serious the deflation of the game balls by the New England Patriots really was: “Well, I probably see things different because I’m an old guy. I’m 47 and...” No, son, no, you are not an old guy. That’s inflation.

***

Bus stop bench at Wyoming and Montgomery

Sunday, January 10, 2016

BUS STORY # 479 (A Tender Mercy)

Untitled, © All Rights Reserved, by AShakur.

There’s a guy waiting for the bus at the second to the last stop at the end of the route where the driver can take a break if he’s on schedule.

When the bus pulls up and the door opens, the guy waiting doesn’t board. He’s talking with the driver.

I can’t hear the conversation. I figure he’s asking something about where the bus goes or how to get from here to somewhere else.

He points down the sidewalk, then makes an exaggerated “c’mon, c’mon” gesture. Ah, he’s trying to hold the bus for someone who’s running late.

The driver shakes his head no, and the doors start to close. Then I see him look in the mirror. The doors return to wide open, and he waits.

And waits.

Eventually, we see a guy limping up the sidewalk to the front door. Older guy, obviously trying to go as fast as he can. I can see the effort and pain on the side of his face.

When the old guy boards, I see knee pads worn on the outside of his jeans on both knees. The pads are backwards, the pad behind his knees. The straps are pulled tight above and below the knees.

He staggers toward the bench seat and falls into me.

He apologizes profusely, and explains it’s his knees. I can smell alcohol on his breath.

I tell him it’s OK, and say it looks like he’s got some pretty sore knees.

He does, he does, but he can’t get them fixed. He went to the VA and they ran some tests and he’s got blood clots in his chest. They can’t fix the knees until the blood clots go away.

His knees are too sore for him to ride his bike anymore. That’s why he’s gone back to drinking. Because of the pain, you know.

The driver has driven past the rest stop. There was no one waiting, and there was no time left to take a break. He’ll probably have forgotten all about it by the end of the day.

__________


The photo at the top of this story is untitled, © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the permission of AShakur. You can see AShakur's photostream on Flickr here.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

BUS STORY # 478 (Dog Is My Co-rider)

Downloaded from A Geek in the Wilderness

We’re just a few stops out of the turnaround when a woman boards the bus with a dog on a leash. It is not marked as a service dog. Perhaps it is a “support” dog. That would fit with the woman, a thirty-something trim honey blonde wearing a nice T-shirt and nice jeans.

The dog, a Heinz 57 with Boxer in his ears and German Shepherd in his snout, is clearly a youngster, with all the insatiable curiosity and inability to hold still that comes with that age.

The driver says something to her, and a brief conversation ensues. I can’t hear any of it, and I’m wondering if the driver is telling her dogs aren’t allowed on the city buses.

Maybe the conversation has nothing at all to do with dogs. When they have finished talking, the woman starts down the aisle.The dog jumps up on the bench seat to her right. The woman pulls him down off the bench. She pushes him into the space between the bench seat and the first forward-facing row, then takes the window seat.

She is trying to get the dog to lie down. He lies down, for about five seconds. Then he’s back up and looking at all the unexplored territory behind him.

Three men board at the next stop. As each passes by, the dog has to be restrained hard to keep him from checking them out. The second man veers away and extends a “down-boy” stiff arm in the dog’s direction. The dog doesn’t even land a sniff.

The bus was almost empty at the turnaround. But I know it’s going to fill right up as we get closer into town. I’m remembering an earlier dog-on-the-bus story from when I first began riding. It wasn’t a happy story, and I am worried about how this one is going to turn out.

Another stop, another two riders. The woman has both hands on the dog’s harness. He tries to meet the new riders, but he is now more contained. But in between stops, he’s given a little more latitude, a bit of the aisle. He wants more.

And then, a few stops later, she and the dog head for the front door. A teenager is boarding, and when he sees the exuberant dog, he backs up against the handrail and pulls his arms up. I can’t tell if he’s alarmed or just having fun. The woman and dog pass by him and out to the sidewalk without incident.

This is all the adventure I need for this bus trip, thank you.

__________


The photo credit link is worth checking out for the short post that accompanies the photo. The post even refers to “a bus trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.” Nice post.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

BUS STORY # 477 (The Kindness Of Strangers)


Downloaded from Busted Halo.

My daughter lives in Brooklyn. This is the story she told me about a time she took the A train to JFK.


If you’re taking the A train to JFK airport in NYC, you want to take the route to Far Rockaway, not the route to Lefferts Boulevard. Think of it like the San Mateo bus here: if you want to get to all those office complexes south of Balloon Fiesta Park, you take the 140, not the 141.

My daughter was going to JFK when the A train pulled into her station. It was going the other way, but she was anxious to get going, and she knew she could transfer later at an above-ground station.

She’d just taken a seat and pulled her suitcase up beside her when a young man approached her asking if she was going to the airport.

Yes she was.

Ah, well, he explained, this route didn’t go to the airport, and he told her which station to get off at to get on the correct route.

She didn’t feel the need to explain herself, and simply thanked him.

He asked where she was from.

Well... She told him she was from Brooklyn and laughed a little sheepishly.

Ah, so she already knew all this.

Yes she did, but she very much appreciated his thoughtfulness and willingness to help out someone who might well have been lost.

It can be confusing, he acknowledged, and said he usually offered to help anyone he saw with a suitcase.

My daughter got off at her station. She was waiting for the train, her suitcase by her side, when she was approached by a teenaged girl who explained to her the next train coming was the train to the airport. She thanked the girl for being so helpful, and felt really good about her fellow New Yorkers.