Sunday, August 07, 2011

BUS STORY # 248 (“It’s Either The Bus Or Hoof It”)

5 Montgomery/Carlisle by busboy4
5 Montgomery/Carlisle, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

He asks me if the Montgomery/Carlisle bus stops here. I tell him it does.

Then he asks me if it still runs every 20 minutes. I tell him I don’t know.

He tells me it used to, but he’s heard there’ve been a lot of schedule changes since he last rode the bus. Now his car’s broken, and “It’s either the bus or hoof it.”

He’s interesting looking. Dress slacks with a nice drape, nice short sleeve shirt, untucked, and meant to be. Dress shoes, in excellent condition. He’s got an open weave straw hat, with gray hair curling at the back of his neck. And sunglasses. Wayfarers. I think “Florida.” And then, “in the ‘80s.”

He’s also missing his four front teeth.

He’s articulate and fast-talking. The missing teeth don’t hamper his speech any, and it is pouring out non-stop.

His car is an ‘86 Chevy Nova which he says is also a Corolla. This is news to me. But then, there is very little about cars that wouldn’t be news to me.

He says he bought it for $350, but this past winter, he tried to muscle it through a snowdrift in his driveway. He thinks he may have strained the transmission then.

Last week, it sounded pretty bad. His boss told him he better get it fixed or he’d find himself stuck somewhere and unable to get to work.

But then his boss fired him. He knew it was coming, so he put off getting the car fixed. He’s glad he did. Otherwise there he’d be, no job and a big bill he couldn’t pay.

His first car was a beauty. He told me what kind, and for the life of me, I do not recall what it was. I pictured something electric blue with lots of chrome, even though he didn’t tell me what color it was.

I do know it was a front-wheel drive.

I know this because he told me he’d fallen behind a couple of payments when it got stolen right out of his driveway by some repo men.

He says they don’t leave a note or anything, so you don’t know if someone has stolen your car for real, or what. Took him three days to track it down. They’d ruined it during the repossession.

He says he parked it right up close to the garage, and had it locked in gear. They hooked the back end to their truck, lifted it up, and dragged it away. He asks me if I know what that does to a front-wheel drive transmission.

He says the repo business is outright thievery. They give you an option: go into default and lose your car and your credit, or pay the balance plus all the charges they pile on right now. How’s someone who couldn’t make a monthly payment gonna pay the whole thing plus all the jacked up charges?

By taking out a second and high-interest loan, that’s how. That’s what he had to do to protect his credit.

But the car died a few months later. That transmission never was the same after the repo. And they’re not responsible for the damages. It’s your word against theirs, anyway.

He starts telling me how he came to own the Nova -- some guy he knew who was leaving town and wanted to sell it but couldn’t find a buyer -- when the Montgomery/Carlisle pulls up.

“There’s my bus,” he breaks off, and off he goes. I see him still standing by the driver when the bus pulls away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another fascinating slice of life, Thanks

11:55 AM  

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