BUS STORY # 429 (It's Never Really Simple)
|Public art at the ABQ RIDE stop at Central and Zuni. Photo by Busboy.|
My first impression was that she was a regular. After boarding, she took the bench seat next to the front door and looked us all over, and smiled. A big smile. A “hi there” smile.
She was even smiling at me. Or maybe it was just in my general direction. She had sunglasses on, so I couldn’t really see her eyes, and I was in her general line of vision.
If she was smiling at me, maybe she recognized me from other rides. But I didn’t recognize her at all.
She kept smiling that big happy smile in my direction, so that after a few stops, I was beginning to wonder. I wondered if maybe she was ... simple.
When I got to my stop, I was preoccupied with the question of whether “simple” was offensive or not, and if it was, what word might be used in its place. I’d pressed the pedestrian walk button and was waiting for the light to change when I heard a voice ask if I was catching the bus. I looked over to my right and there she was.
“The northbound Wyoming bus. Yes,” I answered.
“That’s my bus,” she replied.
“It should be here around two-fifteen,” I said.
The light changed, we walked across the intersection, turned north to the bus stop bench, and sat down.
“This is where I catch the bus,” she said.
Silence. Then, “I’m getting my computer back Thursday.”
Um... “Back from where?”
“From my brother.”
Had he borrowed it?
She answered no, he’d taken it with him to fix it.
What was wrong with it?
It didn’t work.
After a pause, she added her brother’s daughter had used it without her permission and put a lot of junk on it, and then it didn’t work.
So your brother is fixing your computer because his daughter messed it up.
No, not that brother. Her brother from California is fixing the computer. Her other brother has the daughter who messed it up.
So is the brother from California mailing the computer to her?
No, he’s bringing it to her.
All the way from California?
He spends a lot of time in Phoenix because of his work.
Ah, I say, “just a hop, skip and a jump from Albuquerque.” I was being cute. Phoenix is over 400 miles from here.
“Just a hop, skip, and a jump,” she answered.
Another pause. Then she said the daughter who messed up her computer was her brother’s who lived here. He shouldn’t have let her use her computer. She put a lot of junk on it.
What kind of junk?
You know, junk. Junk.
I asked how old the daughter was.
I figured her niece had unwittingly downloaded a virus or two (although my wife wonders if she simply spilled something sticky on the keyboard). I suggested she probably didn’t mess up the computer on purpose.
She told me her brother put junk on it, too.
All of this conversation took place in maybe the first five of the 20 minutes we waited for the bus. Over the next 15 minutes, in exactly this same kind of back-and-forth, I learned she had been living with her brother here in Albuquerque. It was not a happy time for her because they wouldn’t let her cook because they were afraid she’d set the house on fire. And they’d go into her room when she was at work even though she’d asked them not to. She wanted to get a job, but her brother told her she wasn’t able to get a job. He thought he knew all about her, but he didn’t. She got a job at a fast food restaurant in the area. And then they ruined her computer.
So she moved in with her mother who had had a stroke but was now self-sufficient. That was a week ago. She’s much happier now because no one is telling her she can’t do this and she can’t do that, and because her brother from California is bringing her computer back with a lock on it that only she and her mother will know the password for.
When the bus came, she got on and was getting ready to take the bench seat behind the driver. I wished her good luck and took a window seat in the middle. I saw her looking over at me, and then she came and sat down next to me. She told me her brother’s daughter probably didn’t mean to mess up her computer. She told me she didn’t eat the food where she worked because it was cheaper to bring her own, and wasn’t loaded with fat. She told me she was glad she was living with her mother. She could cook anything she wanted at her mother’s. She told me her brother from California was putting a lock on her computer, and only she and her mother would know the password to get in to the computer.
When we got to her stop, I told her I was glad she was living with her mother and was getting her computer back, and I wished her luck. She nodded, then headed for the door.