Sunday, November 14, 2010

BUS STORY # 210 (And How Was Your Day, Dear?)

IMG_3421 Crowie, Photo license: ⓒ All Rights Reserved, originally uploaded by Leilah.

So: I get to my stop at 6:27 a.m., which is either going to be six minutes before the bus arrives or more, depending on whether the bus is on time or running late. The bus does not come in six minutes, or in seven, or in 10 or in 14 . . . The next bus appears right on time, 16 minutes later.

When I board, I spot Frank,* a regular on my route, but not always the same schedule. I sit across the aisle from him,and he tells me how the bus he intended to catch never came. That was my bus. Each of us is now reassured it wasn’t us.

Before we reach Tramway, we pick up four more regulars and we all go through the same routine about how the bus never came and it wasn’t us.

I’m already thinking I’m going to miss my connection at Yale and Central, which will wipe out the prep time I was counting on for a meeting at 8:15 a.m., and will possibly make me late as well. I’m wondering if I should get off at Louisiana and gamble on catching the Rapid. If it comes right away, I may have a shot at my regular connection.

The argument is settled when I watch the Rapid go by right in front of us as we’re stopped at a red light on the other side of Louisiana. I’m going to lose 30 minutes and my prep time.

Down at UNM, I’ve just gotten off the bus and am heading for the crosswalk when I realize my wallet is not in my pocket. The 11 has just taken off, and I’m standing there paralyzed. I could pray for a miracle, but I’ll likely never see that wallet again.

I recover my wits and pull out my cell phone. Maybe if I alert ABQ RIDE right now, they can reach the driver and somehow recover my wallet. Fat chance, but certainly worth the effort.

My cell phone battery is dead.


Well, there’s nothing to be done now but get to work and start calling ABQ RIDE, then my credit card companies and the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles.

Crossing the street, I realize this coming Saturday’s winning Powerball ticket is also in that wallet. I’m well into imagining how I’ll buy another ticket with the same lucky numbers (an amalgam of my kids’ birthdays and my wedding anniversary) and lay for my co-claimant, the dirty rat -- when I remember I was working on the budget at the kitchen table this morning.

Could I have left my wallet on the kitchen table?

My wife is not home and won’t be any time soon, so there’s no point in calling. I decide to go on to my meeting. It’ll be close, but if the 50 is on time, I have a shot.

I’m standing under one of the trees next to the shelter, waiting impatiently, when a heavy, wet plop hits the top of my head. I reach up instinctively and feel the spot, then pull my hand back to look. It’s covered with thick, yellowish liquid. I look up into the branches above. You, dear reader, are way ahead of me at this point. For those inquiring minds that want to know, it was a female House Sparrow.

Even with the lost wallet looming before me, I almost laugh. I mean, how much more perfect could this morning possibly get?

The 50 is on time, which means I have a shot at getting to the meeting on time. When I board, I see Maddie,* another regular who is one of the six of us who got left behind this morning. She must have missed the 16/18 connection and walked down to Martin Luther King and caught the 50 there.

Before I can ask, she asks me if I noticed that none of our regular co-riders who board the bus west of Tramway boarded the bus we ended up on this morning. Hmmm.

That means all those other riders either found another way to get to work, or were picked up by the bus that left us behind. Maddie says, “He shorted us.” Her theory is the driver was late to his starting point and decided to lop off the route east of Tramway to make up time.

I suggest maybe it was a driver who didn’t know the route. She gives me a look, then decides I am surely being facetious.

We discuss calling this in. I’m thinking I’ll email Rebecca Torres, ABQ RIDE’s contact person, after I get home from work. Right now, I’m trying to organize my thoughts about the problem I need to address at the meeting I’m still not sure I’m gonna be on time for, and how to handle my missing wallet.

At work, I go straight to the restroom to wash my hands. Then I look in the mirror. No visible trace of bird bomb. I go on to the meeting where I find out no one is prepared to discuss what I needed to be at the meeting for in order to discuss.

It’s not really the same thing that happened under the tree, not literally. The meeting is short (naturally), and I realize if I hurry, I can catch the 50 going back to Central.

I have a plan, you see: go home and see if my wallet’s there. If it isn’t, I’m taking the rest of the day off to take care of business. If it is, I can clean up, then go downtown where I’m supposed to be at another meeting at 11:00 a.m.

I get to the bus stop and pull out my cell. I’d better let my boss know where I am and why, and where I might not be for the rest of the day . . . Oh, yes, the phone. I forgot. I instinctively feel the top of my head.

The 50 is on time and the ride uneventful. I get off at Central, walk to The Frontier, and catch the Red Line 13 minutes later.

We’ve made the turn at Louisiana and pulled into the stop when the driver announces we all have to get off the bus. He explains he’s running an hour behind and has to turn around now. We have to get off and catch either the 3 or the 157 which should be along any minute now.

In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

We all get off the bus, and watch it head north for Lomas. A few minutes later, the 157 arrives.

We all climb aboard. I’m seated when I see the last two riders from the Rapid still standing outside the door. It’s a young girl and her mother. The mother looks late 30s, the girl maybe third or fourth grade.

The young girl asks the driver where this bus goes. He tells her. She turns and explains to her mother in Spanish. They board, and the young girl puts money in the till. It slowly dawns on me that she’s just paid their fares a second time. They’d already paid when they boarded the Rapid that they were made to get off of.

I am too slow and too wrapped up in thinking about what lies ahead for me if my wallet is gone to fully register the sadness of what I’ve just seen. It isn’t that the driver was taking advantage; he didn’t know. It was the young girl and the woman who either didn’t understand, or else felt too intimidated to insist they’d already paid. The rest of us had passes. It isn’t until later that I think the cash in my wallet might be significantly less a loss to me than that extra $1.35 is to the girl and her mother.

We get to Lomas. Less than 15 minutes later, I’m on the 11 on my way back home. When I get there, I walk into the kitchen and there’s my wallet on the table. I reach for the sky, not the top of my head. Yes! And then I count my blessings. The bird deposit is suddenly a whole lot funnier.

After scrubbing my head with a wash cloth, I shoot my boss an email, send another to Rebecca Torres, then go back to work.

This time, I take the car.

*Real name changed.

Postscript: When I got home that evening, I had a response from Rebecca Torres. Rebecca said she’d checked with dispatch and they showed nothing happening. But she also said she’d have someone speak to the driver. (She also told me one of my co-riders had also called this in. I’m guessing that was Maddie.) That was a week ago last Thursday. As of the date/time of this post, I've heard nothing further.

The photo at the top of this story is titled “IMG_3421 Crowie” and is posted with the kind permission of Leilah. You can see this and all Leilah’s photos on Flickr at:


Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Busboy, thanks for another interesting story. It is always a treat to visit your blog. My purse was stolen 20+ years ago and I still felt the sinking/helpless feelings of what happened that day while reading your story.
Glad everything "kind of" worked out for you, especially the wallet.
It is sunny but a bit cold here. My husband still tries to get into a few more round of golf this weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving and best regards to you and your family.
St. Louis, Missouri

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

What a day! I'm glad you came out with a positive attitude. That can make any bad day into a good one...or at least a tolerable one!

p.s. Have I mentioned I wait for each Sunday to read your posts? You always leave me with something to ponder. Last week was too much for me to respond to. I read it several times.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

@TOTA: Thank you. I regret I elicited memories of an experience that didn't have my happy ending.

On a different note, has your work situation improved? I remember you were dealing with a difficult supervisor, and I've often wondered how you've done with that.

Happy Thanksgiving also to you and your family.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

@ Brenda: Thank you for your kind words. I suspect my positive attitude had everything to do with that wallet being on the kitchen table and not on the bus!

I appreciate your comments about last week's story. It is certainly the most powerful rider experience I've had this year. I was aware at the time I was seeing things I didn't - probably couldn't - understand.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

My goodness...

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An amazing story so well told. The bird doo was definitely the capper. BBBH

2:46 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks, BBBH.

"Capper," eh? That's good - but are you missing an "r"?

7:06 PM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Thanks for your kind comments about my job situation. Without going into a lot of details, let's say I took care of the matter! I confronted the "capper" and let the person that I would not accept such "cap". I documented the incident and started to put things in writing. I stood up for myself and it has been better since. Your kindness and support is much appreciated.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Standing tall in St. Louis

7:31 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

TOTA, that is just outstanding! This Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for your own strength and courage. I'm happy to hear things are better.

8:21 PM  

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