Sunday, July 25, 2010

BUS STORY # 194 (The Correction)

U-Turn? No Way., originally uploaded by clive.flint.

The Red Line is heading for Louisiana. It’s probably three-quarters full, and a lot of folks usually get off at the Louisiana stop.

Some of those riders realize the driver is not getting over toward the turn lane in what would be called a timely manner. Several of them stand up in their seats.

When the bus rolls through the intersection in the outside lane, they’re in the aisles and calling out what’s going on, where’re you going, and so forth.

We pull into the old stop in front of Ta Lin. A few seconds later, the driver, a young, easy-going Latino guy who is clearly laughing at himself, says into the mike, “Sorry, folks. The last time I drove this route, we stopped here and turned north on Wyoming.” He assures everyone he’ll get us back to Louisiana.

He waits until the traffic is clear, then pulls across the lanes to an inside left turn lane to the second street past Louisiana. It’s a small street, and I’m thinking he’s going to make a box – left turn at this intersection, right turn at the next, turn right at the next, and a right back onto Central going west, then a right on Louisiana.

But he’s got a different idea. After that left turn off Louisiana, he sees a parking lot entrance on the right, pulls into the entrance, then makes a hard left. He’s gonna try and turn around right here in the street!

Fat chance, I think.

And sure enough, it looks like he’s not gonna make it, and it looks like he’s not gonna be able to back up and straighten out, either. The other riders are thinking the same thing.

He stops, then inches forward, then inches forward a little more, then a little more, and then – a big bump. There’s a collective “Whoa!” from all over the bus before we realize he’s up on the sidewalk. But dang if he doesn’t get the thing all the way around.

We get a thump when the wheel drops back off the sidewalk.

As the bus heads back to Louisiana, the driver comes back on the mike.

“That, folks, is a Chicano U-Turn.”

Even the stern-faced security guard laughs at this one.

The photo at the top of this story is titled “U-Turn? No Way” and is posted with the kind permission of clive.flint. You can see this and all clive.flint’s photos on Flickr at:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

BUS STORY # 193 (People Don’t Want To Wait For Nobody)

Turning car, originally uploaded by ngawangchodron.

When the driver opens the front door to let on a rider, he takes one look and asks, “What happened to you?

A woman’s voice answers, “I got hit by a car!”

She boards carrying a purse and a blind cane. She’s wearing shorts, and she shows the driver a laceration under her right knee. There’s also a bandage winding down from under the shorts.

The driver asks her where it happened.

The intersection of Central and Rio Grande. She was in the crosswalk when the next thing she knew she was looking up at the sky and there was a lot of shouting. Pretty soon, one or two folks are bending over her asking if she’s all right. She says the only thing she could think to ask was “Am I alive?”

The driver asks if she saw it coming.

“Honey, you know I can’t see anything to my right.” She hoists the cane to remind him. “I’ll tell you what’s funny,” she says, “he said he didn’t see me!

She goes on to tell how this old man, he looked like he was 70, he was trying to bend over her and was all wobbly on his cane, and asking if she was OK, and then telling her he didn’t see her. She says she figured he was closer to death than she was, and she didn’t want to say anything that’d make him keel over on top of her.

But afterwards, she adds, people told her he was just trying to beat her through the crosswalk so he wouldn’t be stuck at the light.

The driver asks her what the cops said.

Honey, they didn’t talk to her. Not even in the emergency room. But she’s got a lawyer, and she can hardly wait to see what that police report says.

As it turns out, she may not know whether the report is accurate or not. She tells the driver she doesn’t remember anything other than walking across the street, then looking up at the sky.

Another rider asks her if she was in the crosswalk at the right time.

She says she always crosses with the signal. It’s too risky not to.

There follows a general discussion of intersections in general, and how unsafe they are. There is general agreement that drivers have a low tolerance for pedestrians crossing the street and holding them up.

Our co-rider probably has it right when she sums up the conversation.

“People don’t want to wait for nobody.”

The photo at the top of this story is titled “Turning car” and is posted with the kind permission of ngawangchodron. You can see this and all ngawangchodron’s photos on Flickr at:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BUS STORY # 192 (Flirting)

Red Line at Uptown, originally uploaded by busboy4.

I’m on the Red Line after leaving work. But I’m not getting off at Louisiana to catch the 11 home. I’m going on to Uptown where I have a rendezvous at McAlister’s Deli, a chain restaurant in an outdoors mall of chain stores, less than a hundred yards from the bus stop.

Over the last decade or so, I have become a poor frequenter of malls. And when I eat out, which is not often, I prefer local places, preferably on Fridays after work or during the weekend.

On this work night, I’d rather be going home where I’d be getting into some comfortable clothes and making myself a big salad or, if my wife was home, sitting down to a home-cooked dinner with her.

But my wife isn’t home. I’ve gotten myself involved in a little flirtation, and am headed for Uptown and a rendezvous at McAlister’s instead.

That’s how it is with flirting. The next thing you know, you’re doing something other than the thing you’d normally be more comfortable doing and you’re weighing the trade-offs.

When we were younger and much less married, flirting usually meant staying in rather than going out. But we’re both old enough and have been married long enough that we save the flirting for the not-sure thing.

My wife loves eating out and she loves the chain restaurants. But she also likes eating out with me. So we have settled into a once-a-weekend routine alternating her favorites with my favorites.

It is not the weekend, however, and we ate out at one of her favorites last Saturday. This is what happens when you start flirting around.

As much as she loves eating out, she hates computers. She did not believe in instruments of the devil until computers entered her life both at work and at home. (She also believes they will be the end of civilization as we know it, but that’s another story.)

Having one at home eventually lured her into the wonderful conveniences of email, sharing photos of the grandkids, and Google. But we have a cranky old PC that takes tinkering and forbearance – skills my wife has cultivated for her relationship with her husband but not her computer.

So last month, she went to Uptown and the Apple store where she bought herself a brand new MacBook Pro. She also signed up for classes to learn how to use it.

I’m proud of her. And I’ve made a point of letting her know it.

Of course, I have my own hidden agenda here. I want her to be a happy, competent user of her laptop so there will be less competition for the seat at the PC, and so I won’t have to stop what I’m doing to troubleshoot whatever isn’t working the way she expects it to.

So you might say I started it.

Her first class is today, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The night before, she asked me would I like to meet her after class.

“How would you like to . . . ” “What would you think about . . . ” “How about we . . .” Well, those are as unmistakable as a certain lilt in the voice, a certain arching of the eyebrows, a certain little smile. And, hey, doesn’t “meet me after class” make an old guy feel younger?

We could, she went on, go eat somewhere that has Wi-Fi and she could show me everything she’d learned. It would be a great review for her while it was still fresh, and I’d get to see all the neat things I could be doing if I ever wanted to borrow it . . .

She’s good, isn’t she?

But it’s not like I haven’t done the same thing myself. “How’d you like to go to a concert with me Sunday afternoon? We could walk over to La Provence for dinner afterwards.” And she did. Of course, the package included a piece by a 20th century composer she is not fond of. Oh, and taking the bus from the Park and Ride. But I think she thought it was worth the trade-off.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

BUS STORY # 191 (Shorts 15)

New Flyer and Old Flyer, originally uploaded by busboy4.

It’s still before sunrise, and there are three of us at the bus stop on the northeast corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo when the fireworks start. They’re coming off the electric wires running overhead. One guy asks if it was the birds. I hadn’t seen any on the wire, but I had seen several pigeons flying off from somewhere during the display. I scan the intersection for fried pigeons. Nothing there. I pull out my cell and dial 311. The operator puts me in touch with PNM Emergency. I tell my story. “It looks like the Fourth of July,” I add. “I’ll bet,” she says. Then she tells me they’ve already dispatched a crew to the area. The streetlights go out shortly afterwards, but I’m giving that to the approaching daylight.


The girl in front of me is holding a cell phone to her right ear. She’s listening to something hip-hop. So are the rest of us. I’m wondering if listening to a song on your cell is the most cost-effective way to get your musical entertainment. The driver calls out to turn that radio down, he can hear it all the way up there. She snaps the phone shut and puts it into a pocket.


I hear chamber music coming from what sounds like a transistor radio. It’s moving down the aisle and I realize it’s a ringtone. I look up to see a high school girl pulling her phone from a pocket in her backpack as she’s moving to the back of the bus. Dark sweatshirt, blue jeans, big gold hoop earrings. The music cuts off. “Wha’chew want,” she says to the cell. Chamber music!


I look up from my magazine to get my bearings. Then I look around me. There are five of us up on the platform. All but one of us is reading. Across from me is a couple reading from their bibles. The man has a worn leather volume and looks to be in the vicinity of Isaiah. He is following his finger and moving his lips. His wife has a well-thumbed paperback bible and looks like she’s smack dab in the middle of what some call the Pentateuch, some the Torah. To their right, a young man is reading a library book. I try and fail to get even a glimpse of the title. To his right a guy is holding his right hand out and furling and unfurling his fingers, one at a time, over and over again. His lips move with each unfurling. Not an iPod among us.