Sunday, November 05, 2006

BUS STORY # 9 (It’s A Big City, Ma’am)

The Yale bus runs every 30 minutes on the hour. So if I start closing up work 15 minutes earlier, I usually have only a five-minute wait for the bus. I ride the Yale to Central, catch the Rapid Ride, then get off at the corner of Wyoming and Lomas. But no matter which Yale bus I catch, I always end up waiting 20 minutes for the outbound Lomas bus. It’s just how the schedules interconnect.

One week, it occurred to me that if I stopped at the Coop on my way home from work Fridays, I could cut out a significant portion of my weekend car-tour grocery shopping. The Coop is in Nob Hill, right on Central, and the Rapid Ride, God bless it, stops a block away.

After shopping, while waiting for the next Rapid Ride, it occurred to me I might not have to wait the full 20 minutes for the Lomas bus. After all, I’d broken the Yale-Rapid Ride-Lomas chain by stopping at the Coop.

At the Lomas stop, there was quite a large group of riders waiting. Folks were standing on the edge of the sidewalk looking west. A few stepped into the street when it was clear to get a better look. I guessed the bus must be running late. It arrived -- what else? -- 20 minutes later. Near home, the bus stopped for a single wiry, elderly woman who climbed slowly aboard, then stood by the fare box scowling at the driver, then spat out “How come you’re so late?” The driver calmly replied, “It’s a big city, ma’am.” She gave him a broiler of a glare before sitting down.

Two stops later, she rang the bell to get off. At her stop, the front doors wouldn’t open. The driver worked levers, pulled knobs, pressed buttons, squealed the air brakes. She turned around to the rest of us and said, “See what I mean?” The driver forced the doors open with his shoulder and held them open for her to exit. “Have a good day,” he called after her, not a trace of irony in his voice.

The front doors worked fine the rest of the ride home.


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