Monday, September 04, 2006


I didn’t really want to switch from the 6:48 a.m. to the 6:28 a.m. No. 11. I’d come to enjoy meeting my neighbors at the bus stop and the camaraderie on the ride into town. But the first day I climbed on board the new bus, the driver stuck out his hand and said “Hi, I’m Gene, but folks call me Gino.”

Gino likes to talk, and he talks to all his regulars and knows all their stories. He’s an integral part of the conversation and banter that also occur on this particular schedule of the Lomas bus. Spirits always run high with this group of folks, but Fridays are usually notched up a bit higher.

One recent Friday, Gino was driving – which was unexpected because he’d told us the day before that he was going fishing on Friday. So each regular boarding the bus said “Hey, Gino, I thought you were goin’ fishin’ today.” Gino had a different answer for each one of them.

At one stop, the back door wouldn’t close. Gino had to get up and go back to deal with it. The conversation went something like this:

”What’s wrong? They give you a bum bus this morning?”

“Nah. I promised the bus I’d take it fishing with me today, and now it’s all cranky because it’s gotta work.”

“Where are you goin’ fishin’ that you could drive a bus to?”

“Hey, driving the bus to a good fishing spot is easy. It’s getting out that’s tough. We lost 3 buses like that last month up in the Pecos.”

“Yeah, but those trout are still talkin’ about the one that got away.”

And so forth.

At one stop where two regulars were waiting, he pretended not to see them and showed no signs of slowing down. One of the guys at the bus stop promptly hitched up one pants leg and showed Gino some leg.

At another stop where a regular was waiting, Gino slowed down, almost stopped, then started to pull out again. The regular beat on the side of the bus. When he climbed on board, he asked Gino “How’d you know I didn’t have my pass today?”

Then there’s the woman I’ve never met and probably never will because she boards somewhere downstream from my exit at Lomas and Wyoming. On this particular Friday one of the regular guys boarded the bus and was greeted with “Oh, he’s wearing green today. She’s gonna like that.” Someone else said, “Are you wearing that for her? We kinda thought you weren’t really interested.” “Yeah,” chimed in another, “here we were being pretty vague and all when she asked if any of us knew where you lived.” And so forth.

Here’s the story: Until we get around to adopting the anomie of the faceless, alienated crowd, Albuquerque is doomed to remain a town, a cultural backwater, a thorn in the side of comfortable isolation. At least on the No. 11 workday inbound.


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