Sunday, July 26, 2009


BUS STORY # 143 (¿Que Pasa?)


I’ve caught the early bus this morning. I have plans for getting a jump on the workday.

The bus moves right along. As it pulls to a stop on the east side of Wyoming, I get my gear together. I’m going to get off on the other side. That way, I avoid having to cross the intersection twice to get to my Rapid Ride stop.

A guy gets on the bus and says something to the driver, then takes a step down the aisle. He calls out to someone in the back.

Sure enough, a guy from the back comes down the aisle and meets him at the front. A discussion ensues. The traffic noise pouring in through the open front door drowns them out. All I can tell is that there’s a give-and-take.

The boarder has a gray sweatshirt and a white baseball cap. He’s smooth-shaven. The rider has on jeans and a black T-shirt. Moustache, no hat.

I catch the driver’s face in his rearview mirror. He looks like I’m feeling: amused in a half “C’mon now,” half “What the – ?” kind of way.

The rider turns and starts back toward the rear. The boarder turns toward the door, stops, then calls something out. The rider turns back toward the door.

That’s when I see the Rapid Ride rolling in from the north. Even if I exited the rear door now, I’d never make it through both lights on time. But today, this just means I’m gonna get to work 11 minutes less early, and for compensation, I’m getting to watch this bus story. So, this morning, I’m OK with all this.

The next thing I notice is that the rider has reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. He pours it into the open hand of the boarder, then once again turns and starts toward the back of the bus.

The boarder turns to go, and this time he really does. The driver closes the door, then pulls up to the intersection and waits for the red light.

I watch the Rapid Ride pull away from its stop and head south.

Later that morning, at work, I regale my co-workers with the story. They get into it. Everybody takes a shot at a bus story here:

– The boarder knew the rider would be on this bus and was waiting for him;

– No, the boarder and the rider had prearranged the meeting;

– No, it was entirely accidental. It’s just when the boarder saw he was getting some money, he figured he didn’t need to take the bus to wherever he was going;

– Or maybe it wasn’t enough change to ride the bus, so he still had to walk;

-- It was a drug deal (no it wasn’t, no drugs were exchanged; yes, it was, it was a payment on a delivery already made; no it wasn’t, not for a handful of change – and besides, nobody delivers drugs on credit; etc);

My favorite comes from Roz.* She suggests it’s one of those behavioral studies somebody has set up to see what the reaction of the driver and/or the riders will be.

If she’s right, I can’t vouch for people’s thoughts and feelings, but I can say our behavior shows us to be a mighty tolerant bunch of folks. Those of us riding this particular bus on this particular morning, anyway.
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*Real name changed
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The photo above features last year’s Poetry On The Bus third place winner in the youth category. The poem is Night-swimming [as ABQ RIDE lists it; "nightswimming" as the poster displays it], by Madelyn Stroik. Click on the photo to enlarge.

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