Sunday, November 16, 2008


BUS STORY # 107, Part 2 (Some Drivers)


Nick has just finished telling me his bus story. So now I tell him mine.

I was standing on the north side of Lomas and Wyoming, watching the eastbound No. 11 chugging up toward the intersection, and begging the light to change to red before he got to the intersection. It did.

There’s a stop about three car lengths before the intersection. The bus had already stopped there, then moved forward to the intersection. As I crossed Lomas in front of him, I flashed him my pass. He looked away from me, toward the northeast. I came around to the door. He kept looking away. I knocked on the door. He turned and looked at me. There was a very long pause, and it was just beginning to sink in he wasn’t going to let me on when the doors opened. I thanked him. He didn’t acknowledge the thanks -- or me, for that matter. But he’d opened the door. That’s what counted.

Later, at the stop just before Eubank, folks exited and entered the bus, and the doors closed. Just about then, an old, white-haired guy in a blue shirt suddenly realized this was his stop. He pulled the cord and stood up. The driver wouldn’t open the door. He told the old guy he’d have to wait until the next stop.

The next stop was on the other side of the intersection. The old guy got off the bus, then turned around and let the driver have it. It seemed to me the driver left the door open until the old guy was finished. Then he closed it with no comment and went on.

I made it a point to thank him again when I exited, but he looked straight ahead and just waved me away. I had the impression he didn’t want to be reminded he’d done something he wouldn’t make the mistake of doing again.

Nick and I were thinking the same thing: did we have the same driver? But Nick didn’t remember anything about what his driver looked like, and I didn't remember which day it was.

We wondered if our drivers had had a bad day. Collectively speaking, the drivers are nicer to us than we riders are to them. I’ve seen exchanges which would have left me in a black mood if I’d been the driver.

We wondered if there was a policy which stated drivers can only pick up riders at designated bus stops. My bus was at the intersection, not at the stop. Then we wondered if, once they made a stop and closed the doors, they weren’t supposed to reopen them again. That would cover Nick’s and the old man’s situation.

Whether or not such a policy exists, just about everyone accepts there’s always going to be some discrepancy between the actual bus schedule and the published one. Most drivers and riders cut one another some slack here.

Further, I think most drivers are sensitive to the fact that leaving a rider at a stop means more than just a few minutes wait for the next bus. They’re a remarkably service-oriented group of folks. We can only be grateful for that, and hope that our particular driver(s) get on the bus.
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Post script: Neither Nick nor I have had another experience like this since. We’ve concluded this is “the exception that proves the rule.” In Nick's case, he’s allowing the possibility that the driver was operating under a condition like my driver’s at Skateboard Park. He can imagine what those riders waiting for a bus already 20 minutes late must have thought and felt – and said out loud – when our bus blew right by them. That’s the Nick I know, God bless him.
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The photo at the top of this story is posted with the kind permission of Dr Feel. You can see the photo and links to all Dr. Feel’s photos on Flickr at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/punch/1375801504/

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