Sunday, June 03, 2007

BUS STORY # 35 (Shorts)


A fellow passenger is telling me how the Yale bus broke down at the airport a few days earlier. “I saw it go up the hill and it never came back down.” He ended up waiting another thirty minutes for the next bus. A few stops later, he said, a woman boarded and lit into the driver for being so late. “It wasn't the driver's fault, but she just wouldn’t let up.” He and another rider used their cell phones to call Customer Service. They told the representative what was happening and why, and to disregard any call that might come in from an irate woman complaining about the driver of this route being so late.
***
One early weekday morning, I find a family of six waiting at my bus stop for my bus. A family of six! Two parents going to work at different jobs, four children going to school at two different schools. They’ve never used the bus before. Their car is in the shop. They downloaded the bus schedules, spent hours working out the schedules and connections. Mom drills the kids in the predawn dark. It becomes 6:13 a.m. and no sign of the bus. By 6:20, he’s still not here. I tell them how unusual this is, especially for this driver by whom you can set your watch. Mom calls ABQ RIDE. She listens to music for seven minutes, then hangs up. At 6:30 I tell them this is the first time for me the bus has not come. Mom and one of the kids are going to be late. Abel comes down around 6:40 to catch the 6:45. He tells them he’s been riding the bus for eight years and this is the first time this bus has not shown up. The family is pretty deflated by now. We all board the 6:45. Sorry, but the driver has no idea what happened to the earlier bus. The next morning, no one shows up at the bus stop except me.
***
We are rolling down Lomas one morning when we pass one of the regulars who is running to make the stop. She’s a student. She’s wearing a backpack and running stolidly, as if to make the effort and hope for the best while simultaneously knowing she can’t possibly make the stop on time. We pass her handily on our way to her stop. Will the driver wait? Bless his heart, he does. She climbs on board, breathlessly thanks him, flashes her pass. “You know your pass expired yesterday,” he tells her. She stands at the till, dumbstruck and panting, then slaps her forehead. Yes, it’s the first of the month. Another regular calls out, “Mary, you need some change?” The driver says, “Don’t worry. I know you always have a pass. Show it to me tomorrow.” He waves her toward the back of the bus and pulls out.
***
At the bus stop in front of the Sunrise Apartments. While passengers are exiting and boarding, I see a small child up the street, standing at the corner. She’s watching the bus. I think of my granddaughters and guess three, maybe four. She’s a real blondie. Electric blue pants, bright yellow long-sleeve top. The bus starts up. When the front of the bus reaches her corner, she whips around, bends over, and shakes her little booty at us, yellow arms working like pistons. Then she bolts down the sidewalk. Even though the windows are closed, the motor’s too loud, and she’s too far away, I can hear her squealing laughter. I’m momentarily astonished, then laugh out loud – a single, short, explosive “Ha!” No one looks back.

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