Sunday, September 11, 2011

BUS STORY # 253 (Waves)

11 Lomas by busboy4
11 Lomas, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

It’s Monday, August 27, and we’re riding the Lomas bus on the first day of a schedule change.

I’m sitting with one of the regulars, and we’re both taking in the fact that the bus is almost full before we even get back to Lomas going west.

It’s crowded for three reasons: One, it’s commuter time. Two, school’s back in session. Three, the new schedule has caused a lot of folks to shift their bus-riding schedules so they won’t miss their connections and be late for work.

I explain to my seat mate how I’ve lost 20 minutes of my morning to the new schedule, and how that 20 minutes has cost me my usual second cup of coffee. I tell her I could get always up 20 minutes earlier...and we laugh.

Several other folks around us weigh in with the impact of the new schedule on their mornings. One of them is now missing a Juan Tabo connection which is costing her an hour. She’s needing to get her not-yet-toddler to day care before going on to work. To do that, she’s gonna have to get an earlier bus, plus trade the old three-minute wait for the Juan Tabo for a new 20 minute wait, with the child.

My second cup of coffee isn’ t looking like such a big deal anymore.

While we’re having this conversation, I’m also watching a co-rider across the aisle and one row up.

She’s a student, and she’s wearing what looks like the summer blues of a Navy ROTC uniform. It’s gotta be a junior ROTC. She looks like a kid. Short blonde hair, and what would probably be a cute face if it wasn’t so drawn with distress.

I first noticed her when she got on. The seat had just opened up. She looked at it, balked for a minute, looked over the rest of the bus, then took it. There was a student with a Monzano football jersey sitting in the window seat. She sat on the edge of the seat, one foot out in the aisle, and arranged her satchel and back pack on the floor.

Now, she sits perched on the edge, mostly looking out the front, but looking over the rest of us on occasion with an almost desperate expression on her face.

When the Monzano jersey kid wants up, she struggles with her baggage, gets it rearranged after he’s out, and then is obviously distressed when a new boarder indicates she’d like to get into that window seat.

When she gets off the bus, I mention her to my seat mate. Turns out she’s been watching her, too -- for the same reasons.

Our first impression is that she was overwhelmed by whatever bad fortune dealt her the you-have-to-ride-the-bus card. We took her distressed looking around as a kind of reality check. OMG-am-I-really-here?!

We took her being perched on the seat, face fixed forward out the front window, as an I-can’t-wait-to-get-out-of-here pose.

And we’d both watched her exit and walk past our window with an expression that prompted an image of Scarlet O’Hara raising a fist to the heavens and vowing “I’ll never go carless again!”

Later, I wonder if we’d misdiagnosed the whole scene.

Maybe she was one of us, someone whose world also got turned upside down with the schedule change. Maybe that distressed expression was more an OMG-I-am-so-late-and-I-am-going- to-be-in-so-much-trouble expression.

Maybe her anxious looking around was really her registering all the people who were boarding at every single stop there was and making her even later than she already was.

And maybe her being perched on the edge of her seat looking out the window was more an internal willing the bus to C’mon!-C’mon!-Get-there!

Another bus story that got away.

This time next week, most of us will have figured out which bus we need to be catching to make our connections and not be late to school or work. And we’ll not only have a better sense of what our losses are, but we’ll have already begun learning to live with the new reality.

And surely there are people out there for whom the schedule change is actually a good thing, or at least an inconsequential one.



Anonymous Brenda said...

Wondering if you've caught sight of her again. People are so interesting and I enjoy your insights so much. Keep us posted!

7:45 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, Brenda. I haven't seen her since, but I know that doesn't mean I won't. I had an email from a friend who thinks the second take on this young lady is probably the correct one. I'd love to get the real story one of these rides. If I do, I'll certainly be posting it to Bus Stories.

5:27 PM  

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