Sunday, August 10, 2008

BUS STORY # 95 (The DVD, Part 3/Shorts 7)

ABQ RIDE finally has the DVD running. This past Monday morning, I boarded one of the 700 series for work. As soon as I sat down, I saw the DVD screen was streaming color video. I moved to the front seat and watched all the way to Wyoming. The portion I saw was a series of promotions for city and county government services. Most features were short promos, roughly 20 seconds each, and top-heavy with ABQ RIDE spots. One of them said "Thanks for watching GOV TV." There were a few longer ones for APD, the KiMo Theatre, the Rio Grande Zoo (frolicking polar bears), the Rapid Ride (including one featuring Greg Payne I hadn’t seen before), and a very long and enticing series of water scenes from the Sasebo Japanese Garden at the Albuquerque BioPark. There was a soundtrack, but it was virtually inaudible. This is not a complaint! Besides, I didn’t need the sound to convince me to check out the Japanese Garden as soon as possible.


A man boards the No. 50 dragging an oxygen tank on wheels behind him. He’s an older guy in blue-gray sweats. A green plastic tube runs from the tank to under his nose. The bus is full, but a woman gets out of her front seat for him and stands in the back by the doors. He walks over to the seat, then turns and faces the rest of us. “Don’t smoke,” he tells us. It’s a cautionary message, of course, but I can’t tell from his delivery whether he means “this could happen to you” or “I don’t want some damn fool blowing us all to kingdom come.”


On the Central bus, a young guy boards with a five dollar bill in his hand. “You got change?” he asks the driver. The fare box is posted with an exact change only sign. The driver doesn’t have change. The rider turns to disembark. “Go on, you can pay it next time,” says the driver. The rider thanks him and moves down the aisle. “Pay it forward,” calls the driver. The rider stops and turns. “What?” “Pay it forward,” repeats the driver. The rider looks blank. “You know, pay it forward,” says the driver. “Right,” says the young guy, still looking blank as a post. “Right.”


My friend Paul tells me he took the Lomas bus to UNM the other day. He got a transfer, and, later, caught the eastbound Lomas bus back home. He showed the driver his pass as he boarded. The driver told him his pass wasn’t any good, it was a morning pass. Paul reached into his pants pockets and started fishing around for a dollar. The driver told him to never mind, go on, and then said, “Happy Birthday.” Paul took the seat just behind him, then poked his head around the partition and said, “It really is my birthday.” And it really was.


Blogger abqdave said...

Pay it forward?

I have been wondering about the transfer policy change. First thought, it is irresponsible for ABQRide not to be 'advertising' the change. This is a big deal that is going to impact a lot of riders. I have seen stories in the newspaper and on TV, but I suspect many of the people using transfers are not aware of it. Why isn't it posted in buses?

I believe ABQRide officials who say they are doing this because of abuse. I have 2 reactions at the same time...I think of the scammers we all see, and think 'great change'. Then I think of the single mom toting her 3 kids who works at Carl's Jr. who I see on the Lomas bus all the time. Is this going to make her life, or people like her, even harder?

7:21 AM  
Blogger JM said...

That's a neat story about Paul on his birthday. I also like the "don't smoke" warning, and its possible double meaning.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

“Pay it forward” describes the concept of doing a favor for someone else who needs help after you’ve been the beneficiary of such a favor. So the driver was telling the guy he let ride to do something for the next guy he encountered who needed help. I first encountered the phrase in the movie “Pay It Forward” (2000). The movie turned hokey, but it put the phrase out there in the general culture.

I also agree that advertising the fare increase has been poorly handled. We learned it first from a DukeCityFix posting by Dave who heard it from a driver. Not exactly the best way to efficiently communicate to the riders. I’m on the mailing list and have heard about detours, but not about the fare increase. I’m sure the drivers are at least as aware as we are how poorly this has been advertised, and I’m guessing most of them will cut a lot of riders caught unawares some slack for the first several days of the new policy.

I also believe the ABQ Ride officials – and the drivers cited in the article as well – that the current system contributes to system and driver abuse. And, yes, the fix is going to make it harder for people like our single mom and her three kids. It’s been my lifelong experience that every time someone scams a system, the fix ends up penalizing the innocent. Probably the smartest thing a regular rider can do is make it part of his/her routine to get a bus pass. If a regular rider uses transfers a lot (and I do), the bus pass actually becomes an even better deal than it already is.

Maybe between the two of us, we can see about paying forward some previous favor by getting this mom, or one like her, her first bus pass.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks, JM. Me, too. But it's always nice when someone else does as well.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What fare increase?

6:32 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

On August 6, the Albuquerque Journal reported: “Riders can still request a transfer, but they will be charged 50 cents starting Aug. 16 when they use it to board a bus. The transfer slip will be valid for two hours, which is the case now.”

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Here’s some things in Wikipedia about “pay it forward.”

The term "pay it forward" was coined, or at least popularized, by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951.

In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel Pay It Forward was published and adapted into a Warner Brothers film, Pay It Forward. In Ryan Hyde's book and movie it is described as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in repayment of a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should be things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. In this way, the need to help one another can spread exponentially through society, creating a social movement with the goal of making the world a better place.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks, Pete. The Heinlein reference intrigued me. Since I don’t consider Wikipedia a first-line reliable source, I googled beyond it. Lots of references to “pay it forward” and Heinlein’s Between Planets. (Interesting side note learned from googling: the first chapter of Between Planets is entitled “New Mexico.”
I do believe the concept of giving back in whatever shape it takes has been with us as long as we’ve had human community.

5:48 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

To anonymous above (6:32 PM posting): On Monday, New Flyer DE40LFR posted a link in the DukeCityFix bus riders’ forum to the ABQ RIDE website which states: “EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 2, 2008: Riders can request a transfer when they board the bus. Each time they use the transfer, they will be required to show the transfer and pay the transfer fee. Transfers are valid for two hours.” The transfer price is listed as 25 cents.

5:59 AM  
Blogger abqdave said...

One more comment about 'pay it forward'. A short while ago, I found a quarter on the street near Yale and Central. Yippee, I rarely find money. I walked down the street to the Smiths to get a couple of things on my way back to work. Coming out of the store, a young guy asked me for money. I said no, as I rarely give money to panhandlers, but then thought about this. I realized my good fortune should be passed on to this less fortunate person.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

As a rule, I don’t give money to panhandlers, either. I’ve been known on rare occasions to buy someone a meal when I thought I wasn’t being hustled and the need felt genuine (nothing fancy, a meal deal at Arby’s or Wendy’s or whatever was close by at the time). But it doesn’t exactly feel like “paying it forward.” Maybe if someone had bought me a meal once when I was down and out, then it would feel that way.

I think of “paying it forward” as returning a favor to someone other than the person who did you the favor. Say the guy the driver let ride for free is sitting on the bus when some other guy boards and doesn’t have the money or the exact change. If he springs for the other guy’s fare, he’s paid it forward. That seems more the sense of it.

Still, however it’s done, passing it on is giving something of what we have with someone who seems to need it more than we do at the moment. That’s what you did with your quarter. It’s among the more admirable of our human qualities.

8:51 PM  
Blogger abqdave said...

BTW, I am also Dave from the Duke City Fix bus blog.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks for the confirmation. I'd wondered, but didn't want to assume.

7:51 AM  

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