Sunday, April 24, 2011

BUS STORY # 233 (One Rider’s “Carless In Albuquerque” Story)

Bus & Wreck, originally uploaded by busboy4.

He’s an old guy. I’ve seen him off and on for years now, but we’ve never really spoken until this morning.

After I take a seat, he tells me he’s used to seeing me on an earlier bus.

I explain work has me riding at different times these days.

He says that’s a good thing this morning, because I can appreciate what a beautiful day it is.

He’s right. It’s late April, and after a couple of weeks of oh-c’mon-now cool weather, it really is one gorgeous spring morning. We’re all in short sleeves and the bus doesn’t need air conditioning.

We get to talking about the bus, and he tells me how he came to be a rider.

A few years back, he was driving down the street minding his own business when the sun absolutely blinded him.

Anyone who’s ever lived out here knows how intense the sun is. There’s a lot of it, and because of our elevation, there’s not a lot of atmosphere in between it and us. And anyone who’s ever driven out here knows there’s a time of the morning and a time of the evening when the sun is low enough to be its most intense self. If you’re driving into it, and you’re a wise and responsible driver, you slow way down until you can arrange your sun visor and hands so you can make out what’s ahead of you. And if it’s behind you, you know better than to use your rearview or side view mirror, even if you’re wearing sunglasses.

Well, he tells me, it wasn’t like that. It was different. It was like a beam of light had lasered right into the center of his eye.

Next thing he knew, he was sitting in the front seat of his truck with an accordioned-up front end pushed into the back end of a city bus.

Good morning, driver.

He explains it wasn’t really a direct hit. The sun must have made him veer to his right, and he caught the left back end of the bus which was stopped in the lane next to his.

But he was going 35, so it was enough of a hit to crunch up his truck, deploy the airbag, and send him to the hospital overnight.

He says the cops didn’t give him a ticket. And he had good insurance, good enough to cover the $50,000 damage to the bus.

He didn’t replace the truck because after he got out of the hospital, he went to see his eye doctor. The eye doctor told him he had macular degeneration.

“They yanked my driver’s license, just like that,” he explains.

So now he takes the city bus.

He says it pretty much meets his needs, although sometimes he has to get rides places from one of his daughters.

I ask him where he lives.

Up past Tramway.

There’s no Sunday service past Tramway. What does he do on Sundays?

He chuckles. “I stay home.”


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