Sunday, April 15, 2007

BUS STORY # 29, Part 1 (Boring)


Decades ago, when I first came to Albuquerque, I got a job on the night shift. Every night I’d come into work, my co-workers and I would begin briefing one another on how much sleep we did or didn’t get during the day, what we had to do before we could get to sleep, what kind of sleep interruptions we’d experienced, and on and on and on about the ever-elusive ideal eight hours of restorative, golden slumber. Sometimes we’d talk about other aspects of our lives, but only after covering the requisite sleep report in exhausted detail.

To an outsider listening in, there could only be one reasonable conclusion: Those night shift folks, they need a life.

After the schedule changes to our No. 11, I realized the same thing was happening on my bus rides. Instead of talking about our daily lives, we’d taken up talking about the bus schedules and the havoc they’re wreaking each day of our bus riding lives. We go over and over how the Monday - through - Thursday No. 11 driver gets us to the Wyoming and Lomas Rapid Ride station in time, but not the Friday driver which means we don’t make the Yale connection in time and are 30 minutes later getting to work. Or how even though we were on time, the Rapid Ride came early, or late, and we still missed the Yale bus and were still 30 minutes late for work. Or how one of the riders swore if we stayed on the No. 11 to Louisiana and then caught the Louisiana southbound, we’d catch the Rapid Ride we missed at Wyoming – which makes no sense and has one extra failure point, but captures the frantic and irrational search for a miracle cure that has gripped many riders suffering from the afflictions of the schedule change. Or we talk about the trip home and how the Yale bus was late and we missed the Rapid Ride that would have gotten us to the Lomas bus that went across Tramway and up Turner – or the Rapid Ride was late, or had collapsed somewhere on the side of the road leaving us with a 19 minute wait and the missed connection at Lomas -- or how the Yale bus and the Rapid Ride were right on schedule, but the Lomas bus came early . . . We discuss the good drivers and the bad drivers – the “good drivers” being the ones who get us to our connections on time and who sometimes wait on us when they know our usual connection is running late. And we talk about this every morning all the way in and every evening all the way home, and nothing at all seems to be important or interesting enough to interrupt this boring beating of the same very dead horse.

How boring is it? Have you managed to read every word to this point? That’s how boring.

Worse, it was killing the bus stories. I found myself preoccupied with getting to and from work rather than with what was going on around me. And, big surprise, I found I’d replaced the stress of driving with stressing out over the connections. Outside the joyless practice of virtue, there was increasingly little to recommend taking the bus.

I experimented with the Park and Ride. The good news is that it eliminated all my missed connection problems. Even if it came late in the afternoon, there was no missed Lomas bus and no walk up the hill to contend with. The bad news is that the Park and Ride is 13 miles round trip (work is 20). And the No. 11, which I was bypassing, has been a diamond mine for bus stories.

So: I wrote a letter.

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