Sunday, May 13, 2007

BUS STORY # 32 (Good Deed)

On my way to work on the Rapid Ride this morning, we stop a couple of blocks before the regular Nob Hill stop for a guy with a transfer ticket. A murmur runs through the bus: how come she’s stopping here? “She” being the driver, one I’d not seen before. I got a good look at her waiting in line to board. Short, skinny, pretty, but a hard pretty, like the pretty that tucks a razor in her bra or a blade in her boot because, like make-up, it’s part of what you always do before going out.

The boarder is a young guy – a young man, actually, and good-looking. Hmmm. Could it be that sex appeal can pull some drivers over where they wouldn’t normally stop? They do exchange a few words before he takes a seat. Up front, close to the driver. Hmmm.

A couple of blocks later, we’re at the Nob Hill stop, but we’re in the center lane. The outside lane is fenced off by a row of orange barrels. There are a bunch of folks waiting at the stop.

“What are you guys doing there?” The driver’s voice is exactly what I would have imagined: dramatic, shrill, with an underlying whine. It’s TV-ready and wonderful. She stops the bus, opens the doors, and yells out “You guys shouldn’t be here. They’ve moved the stop to Solano. That’s what that yellow bag over the bus stop sign means. C’mon, hurry up. I’m not supposed to be stopping here.”

I look in vain for some indication that the Rapid Ride stop is no longer operational. But now I understand the handsome young man is the only rider who has a clue about what’s going on. I’m on the ABQ RIDE email list for schedule updates, and I would have remembered an announcement about Rapid Ride and the Nob Hill area. I think ABQ RIDE has dropped the ball here.

She is hurrying the folks on board, waving away bills and passes and transfer tickets. “Keep moving. I’ll look at ’em later. C’mon, let’s go.” I count nine passengers in all. They’re stacked up in the aisle waiting to settle the fare business. She starts up again, checking each passenger while moving along to the next stop.

After everyone is settled, she goes through her spiel about the stop being closed again. Someone from the back of the bus yells, “OK, OK, just close it.” “What?! I go and do you a favor and pick all you guys up and you’re telling me to shut up?” The incredulity and anger are right there in her voice. The woman across the aisle says, “I’ll bet that’s the last time she picks up anyone there again.” Two other voices from the back: “Thank you, bus driver.” “Yes, thank you.” A pause. Then the original voice repeats, “We got it now. So let’s close it.” Another male voice chimes in, “Yeah, let’s close it up. It’s done.” Followed by laughter.

It’s times like this when I wonder what God was thinking when He created the Y chromosome. But before I get to wondering about His chromosomes, I think about the fact I’m getting off at the next stop, and maybe I ought to say something to the driver. I’m undecided right up until the exit doors open. Then I walk to the front of the bus and stop by the toll box.

“You did a good thing picking up those people. I’m sorry you got any grief about it.”

She does this head-ducking thing which reminds me of a bashful grade-school girl from the 1950s unexpectedly hearing she’s pretty or smart. She smiles, and all the hardness and the differences between us fall away. Who of us hasn’t been in the driver’s seat? “Thank you,” she says, and she means it.

I exit and head for the corner. It’s a Monday morning. I’m feeling exceptionally good, and the rest of this particular Monday goes exceptionally well.


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