Monday, January 28, 2008

BUS STORY # 69 (Shorts 4)


I lost my pager on the bus. A few days later, a passenger asked me if I got it back. Turns out she’d seen it in my seat and turned it in to the driver. I called the ABQ RIDE lost and found. When I asked if they had any pagers, the young man laughed. “I know, I know,” I said, “you’ve got a million of ‘em.” “No,” he answered, still obviously amused, “I got a million cell phones. I haven’t seen a pager in, like, five years.”


***


It’s early afternoon, and a wet snow has been falling along with the temperature. The outbound Rapid Ride pulls into the left turn lane for Wyoming. Over in the right hand lane is the regular No. 66. A guy a few seats ahead of me says to his seatmate, “Just my luck. That’s my bus.” It’ll be a cold, wet wait for the next one. He gets up and walks up to the driver. “Any chance you can let me off here? That’s my bus.” The driver tells him it’s against policy. That makes sense because the door would be opening into two lanes of traffic which is now not moving because of the red light. The guy understands, and starts back for his seat. “Oh, c’mon, it’s almost Christmas,” says the driver, and opens the front door. “Hurry, before that light changes.” The guy bolts for the door. “Thanks, man.” A second, then a third rider do the same. The turn signal is on now, but the driver waits till all three get through the waiting cars and disappear behind the Central bus. They’re gonna make it! But we don’t make the turn signal. Nobody behind us is honking.


***


I'm reading a Thomas McGuane story in the New Yorker on the inbound No. 11. I come to the line, "I was twenty, but she treated me as if I were even younger -- a salute to my retarded behavior, I'm sure." Because it summons up some memories I’ve long ago made my peace with, I laugh out loud. It's an involuntary burst, an explosive "Huh!" My seatmate is startled. Up till now, he's been following bus rider etiquette to perfection: sitting quietly beside me staring straight ahead and making sure none of our body parts touch. Now he turns his face to me, clearly quizzical and probably just now processing the thought that he should have checked the impulse to become engaged. I feel the need to explain. "It's something I just read. It’s pretty funny . . . " He nods, turns his face back to the straight-ahead position, and inches closer to the aisle.


***


Overheard on the ride home: first rider: “You know the guy with the gray hair who always rides the five forty-eight home? He says he was sitting in the back of the bus and they got rear-ended by a truck.” Second rider: “Was anybody hurt?” First rider: “Well, he said a few people got taken to the hospital for observation.” Second rider: “Is he OK?” First rider: “Oh, he’s fine. He said the funny thing is his back had been bothering him for months now, but since the accident, it’s been fine.”

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