Sunday, February 18, 2007

BUS STORY # 22 (Hell, I Sleep With Him!)

After the schedule changes to the No. 11, I had to start taking an earlier bus. This was the first bus of the day, and its regulars included the folks who had always taken the first bus of the day and folks like me who now had to take it because the second bus no longer came to our neighborhood and the third bus, which did, was too late for our work schedules.

Still, given I’m one of the first stops on the route, there aren’t all that many riders when I board. I’d picked out a new regular who I would later learn is a teacher at Highland High, but one morning, somewhere in the first week or two, there was a second rider wearing the blue pants and white shirt with blue trim of a Presbyterian Hospital RN. Like us, she got off at Wyoming and caught the Rapid Ride.

On the Rapid Ride, I sat down next to her and asked her where she worked. Oncology. Wasn’t that a 12-hour shift? It was. And did she take the bus home after work? She did. But the last bus to cross Tramway is at 7:25 p.m. Tell me about it, she replied. She explained she’d always caught the first bus in and the last bus home (which used to arrive at Turner around 9:00 p.m.). So was she planning to walk the more than a mile home in the dark? Did I have a better idea? She was clearly unhappy with the changes. I asked her had she seen the signs urging us to write our city councilman to protest the changes? “Write him?” she replied testily, “Hell, I sleep with him!”

Her name is Amy, and it turns out she’s married to the city councilman in question. It also turns out pillow talk advocacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least not in this case. She said her husband wasn’t happy about the schedule change, either, but he had no real clout in the matter; the power lay in the director’s hands. In her opinion, Greg Payne “caved.” “It’s your neighbors who caused the problem with all their whining about the bus noise.” She spat out “your neighbors” the way a mother would spit out “your children” at her husband when their little dears had behaved in some way she’d found especially odious.

This was not the first time the Albuquerque city transit system had messed with her commuting life. She told me about another schedule change that left her high and dry when she was living in the Southeast Heights. Turns out we were neighbors back then, too. I was a confirmed car commuter in those days.

I got off at Yale; Amy continued her journey to Pres downtown. That’s been several weeks ago, and I haven’t seen her since. I sometimes wonder if the new schedule has left the hospital with one less nurse or the city streets with yet one more car.


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