Sunday, April 19, 2009

BUS STORY # 129 (The Future’s So Bright)

We’re a couple of blocks out of the Alvarado Transportation Center when the driver hits the brakes hard. I pitch sideways in my aisle-facing seat. My backpack, set on the empty seat beside me, breaks my fall.

The driver opens his window, leans out and yells, “You better watch what you’re doing. You almost got hit.” He slams the window shut and rants about bad drivers to himself and the mostly empty bus.

The rider in the seat to my immediate left is facing forward. He leans over toward me and tells me he almost ended up in my lap.

He’s a big guy, solid. I guess mid-twenties. He’ll later tell me he’s 26. Long black hair pulled back in a braid. Round, smiling face. It’s an easygoing smile, and often amused. He keeps it there non-stop.

He asks me if I’m going home from work. I am. He is, too.

He works in a bakery. He starts at six, gets off some 12 or 13 hours later. It depends on the job.

I ask him how he got started. In a friend’s restaurant down in Las Cruces. He tells me the name, but I don’t remember it. He had no cooking experience whatsoever. It was OJT. But he learned his stuff.

I tell him my wife and I were in Las Cruces maybe eight years ago and stumbled upon an incredible restaurant, Mix. Lovely, sophisticated décor with a menu, plating, and meals to match. He knows it, agrees. I tell him I’m glad to hear it’s still there. He says he’s surprised Cruces would support a restaurant like Mix for this long.

He moved to Albuquerque because the wages in Las Cruces were so bad. I ask him if he’s thought about cooking school. He says there’s a pastry school in Las Vegas. He could get a job at one of the high-end places – a baker can get a job anywhere, just like that – and they’d send him to school. The money’s good there, too. The only problem, he says, is he’d have to live there.

He got his distaste for the nightlife working as a bouncer here in Albuquerque for a couple of years. The money’s great, but the clientele . . .

He tells me about the night he quit. The story involved a local strip club, a manager who encouraged “overpours,” then counted on the bouncers to handle the consequences. On this particular night, a manager got laid out, one of the bouncers got coldcocked, and a cook smoking out back got cut up because a second manager wouldn’t let him back inside when they threw the berserk customer out.

I tell him pastry school sounds like the better option here. He says he’s thinking about it, but he’s also planning on going to school “for real” in a couple of years. He’s thinking of two pursuits.

One is computers. That’s the future, and even in a recession, there’s gonna be a need for those skills. He launches into a discussion about business and financing and computers. He sounds remarkably informed. Then he moves on to the recession. Again, I find him uncommonly informed.

We agree things are gonna get a lot worse, and that this will be a long one. But he says it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, you can always find a way to make money. You just have to know where to look. He tells me about an online business he and a roommate had once, selling “intellectual property” relating to online gaming.

He’s into gaming. He’s got a “two hundred dollar shell” of a PC into which he’s put “a couple thousands’ worth” of enhancements. A desktop hot rod. He then describes an online game he’s been playing with a couple dozen other players. It sounds like a cross between Dungeons and Dragons and a Terry Pratchett novel. He delights in all the shortcuts and vulnerabilities, alliances and deal-cuttings, he’s exploited in the game.

From games he jumps to the nascent movie industry here in New Mexico. He ticks off a list of studios opening operations in the area this year and next. He thinks he’d enjoy getting into the movie business, and he thinks now is the time to move, before the industry gets settled and rigid here. He’s confident all he would have to do is show up. If there’s an opening anywhere, he’d take it – and there’s always an opening, even if you have to show it to whoever is hiring. From there, he’d find his niche. He’s thinking he could do set designs, but he’d really love to write. I’m not surprised.

But while he knows that would be a lot of fun, he’s seriously thinking about law school if not computers. He says the res would take care of his tuition. And there’ll always be a future for lawyers.

A lawyer. Yes, of course. He’s got the street smarts and the perfect temperament. And what better career for gaming the system? I make a small joke: “So instead of rolling out dough, you’ll be rolling in dough.” He laughs. But I think he’d already thought of it. Pretty much in exactly that way.

He gets off a few stops before mine.

I’m thinking I’ve heard plenty of daydreams passing for plans in my time, but he's got me thinking he might be different. A lawyer. Yes.


Blogger JM said...

Sounds like World of Warcraft to me.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I googled "World of Warcraft" and, WoW, I think you may be right, JM.

5:52 AM  

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