Sunday, October 17, 2010

BUS STORY # 206 (“But Someone Trying To Better Herself...”)


Yes U Can!, originally uploaded by busboy4.

“Is that our bus?”

She’s talking about the 50 on the other side of the street.

“It is.”

“So what does it do? Go up to the airport and turn around?”

“That’s right. It’ll be back here in about 10 minutes.”

We watch it go by. Then she tells me she was up here to see about getting food stamps.

She’s going to school full time, she explains. Organic chemistry, biology, and a math class. The chemistry and biology classes have labs which run another four hours each. She’s got a 3.8 GPA, but that’s because she puts a good two-to-three hours of study in for each course.

She tells me she’s a “single mom.” Later, she’ll tell me her kids are all grown and on their own now. She pays her own rent, has a patchwork of grants to pay for school, and no job. She’s applied for a work-study position, but hasn’t heard anything back.

About the food stamps, she says, “They told me if I was homeless, I’d qualify. But someone trying to better herself . . . ”

I ask her if she’s going to CNM. She is. She’s studying to be a lab technician. She was in the medical field and she wants to stay there, but doing something less physical. She was a nursing assistant for 13 years. She took care of the elderly -- “Lots of Alzheimer’s” -- until she wrecked her shoulder at work. They had to operate.

I ask her where she’d been working. Seattle, then Salem, Oregon. The bus comes before I can ask her how she ended up in Albuquerque. On the bus, we both sit in the front, a couple of seats away from being opposite one another. She tells me she’s gonna go over to the college and see if she can find out where she is on the list for work-study. Otherwise, she’s just gonna have to find a job. That’ll be the end of her 3.8 she says.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” I reply. Which is true, but that doesn’t save it from sounding lame after it’s out of my mouth.

A regular intake of passengers disrupts the conversation. She gets off at Smith’s. I ride on, remembering the times when I went back to school to “better” myself -- or at least my job prospects. She’s a tough cookie, and she’ll come out fine on the other end.

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