Sunday, October 30, 2011

BUS STORY # 260 (Shorts 22)

Dry Heat by busboy4
Dry Heat, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

I’m sitting in the bench seat by the front door, across from the driver. We pull over at a stop, the door opens, and I hear this guy ask, “Can I bring this on?” The driver pauses, then says, “As long as you don’t block the aisle.” A kid boards with a salvage-looking automobile wheel, complete with worn tire. He finds a pair of empty seats and they sit together, side by side.


Ralph* and I are on the 50 watching a large stream of boarders crossing the street from Project Share to the bus stop. The line is about fully boarded when a lone guy hobbling on a crutch starts across the road. We’re wondering if the driver is gonna wait for him. The guy must have started worrying about that, too, because he suddenly picks up his crutch and runs over to the bus before the doors close.


This reminds Ralph of another story -- same bus, same stop. There’s a woman in a wheelchair waiting with the others. The lift goes down, she gets lifted on board, wheeled into place, and her chair locked down by the driver. Then everybody else starts to board. One of the boarders looks over at her, addresses her by name, and asks her what she’s doing in the wheelchair. She answers she just didn’t feel like walking today.


For reasons unknown, we change buses at the Yale Transit Facility. The new bus pulls back out in the street, and a rider calls out to the driver, “Hey, there’s water dripping from the ceiling.” The driver explains they just finished washing the bus. “But it’s getting the seat wet,” the rider persists. “Yeah,” replies the driver, “but this is New Mexico. It’s a dry wet.”

*Real name changed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BUS STORY # 259 (Melissa’s Bus Story # 1: “Wanna See My Hernia?”)

2000 MARYLAND by lindsaybridge
2000 MARYLAND, a photo by lindsaybridge on Flickr.

Recently, my brother’s two daughters spent a weekend with us here in Albuquerque. Among our adventures together was a trip to the New Mexico State Fair. And, as you might have guessed, we took the bus. In return, they shared some bus stories of their own with us. Here is the first of three.

Melissa is on the Baltimore light rail on her way to the airport.

The car she’s in is almost empty. There’s one other rider, an older guy, sitting on a side bench. And even though she’s reading a magazine, she knows this guy is looking at her.

When he starts talking to her, she doesn’t hear what he is saying at first. Instead, she is thinking to herself, is he talking to me? Well, he must be, of course. There’s only the two of us in the car here. Who else would he be talking to?

He could be talking to himself, of course. But she already knows he’s been looking at her. And so she knows he isn’t talking to himself, he’s talking to her, even though she’s not looking at him, and is instead continuing to look at her magazine which is universal sign language for “I’m not interested in talking to you.”

Either he doesn’t understand universal sign language, or else he subscribes to the American dispensation that signs are for everyone else.

Melissa begins hearing what he is saying when she hears “hernia” and “Johns Hopkins” and “lawsuit.”

Specifically, she hears him when he asks her if she wants to see his hernia.

She declines.

He goes on to explain how Johns Hopkins really messed him up, and how he called Johnny Cochran and told him he had to get them to straighten things out.

The next thing he knows, he wakes up in the Presidential Suite -- “You know, where they put the President when he’s in town.”

He explains he filed a suit and won, and he’ll be picking up his check tomorrow. That’s why he’s on the light rail today.

Later on, he tells Melissa he’s got five cars: an Avalanche, a Hummer, and three other cars Melissa doesn’t remember. Melissa doesn’t ask him how he’s managed to accumulate five cars before the check has come in.

When they get to the airport, he offers to help her with her bag.

She insists she’ll be just fine, thank you. He needs to take care of that hernia.

The photo at the top of this story is “2000 MARYLAND,” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the kind permission of lindsaybridge You can see this and all lindsaybridge’s photos on Flickr at:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BUS STORY # 258 (Rory’s Bus Story # 2)

790 Blue Line by wastemanagementdude
790 Blue Line, a photo by wastemanagementdude on Flickr.

I’m telling my co-workers about how my bus ran out of gas.

When I’ve finished, Rory* asks, “Did you know the Rapid Ride can’t go if the back door isn’t shut tight?”

He proceeds to tell us how he learned this particular fact.

He’s on the Blue Line, sitting in the back near the rear doors.

After the first stop, when the doors close, this guy gets up and goes over to the rear doors, grabs the handles of both doors, puts his left foot up beside the door to brace himself, and pulls hard. Then he sits down.

Rory is watching this and wondering “What the...”

He is also acting out the maneuver right here in the hallway, using the wall as a substitute for the side of the bus. I notice a couple of folks at the far end of the hallway, and I’m pretty sure that, if they’re watching, they’re wondering “What the...”

At the next stop, the same thing happens. Rory demonstrates again.

A couple of stops later, the guy exits.

The bus doesn’t leave after the doors shut.

Rory is sitting there wondering what the problem is.

Then he notices the driver looking back at him. There’s nobody else but Rory back there.

It comes to Rory what the driver wants. He gets up, goes to the back door, and executes the maneuver.

The bus goes.

Rory does this for every stop all the way to Coors, by which time, he’s worn out.

When he exits, he goes out the front so he can tell the driver, “You gotta get that door fixed, man.”

*Real name changed.

You can read Rory's Bus Story # 1 here.

The photo at the top of this story is titled “790 Blue Line” and is posted with the kind permission of wastemanagementdude. You can see this and all wastemanagementdude’s’s photos on Flickr at:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

BUS STORY # 257 (Out Of Gas)

Yale Transit Facility
Yale Transit Facility, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

I’ve just boarded the first bus home. It goes about 80 yards, then dies.

The driver gets on the phone. She has to call someone else to get her to the dispatcher. When she gets in, she reports her route, her location, then says, “I’m out of gas.”

There are five of us hanging on her every word. But the only other thing we hear is “OK.” Then she hangs up.

We sit there for a minute.

A rider at the front asks, “They gonna come rescue us?”

She says yes.

Another minute goes by.

“How long that gonna be?”

She replies “The Transit Center’s just down the road.”

Another minute goes by.

The guy asking the questions gets up and asks if she’ll open the door for him.

When she does, I get up, too, and head for the front.

I touch her on the shoulder and say, “I’ll race you to Central.”

She laughs, but she still looks troubled about what’s happened.

It’s two miles to Central.

The schedule suggests the bus can travel this route in 11 minutes. But that doesn’t take into account the huge group that boards near the community center this time of day, or the Lead/Coal street repair project. That 11 minutes is gonna be more like 20 minutes.

And that’s after the bus gets here.

And the bus isn’t gonna get here until after it leaves the terminal, assuming ABQ RIDE is really gonna send another bus rather than just wait another 30 minutes till the next bus comes around.

I can walk from here to Central in 30 minutes.

So I’m pretty sure I’m gonna win that race with my driver.

I think about how it is a bus can run out of gas. Seems like maybe somebody didn’t check something before this bus went out this morning.

It’s a 300, which means it uses compressed natural gas. Maybe it’s more difficult to gauge the fuel with CNS.

Or maybe they can’t “top off” the tank, and it’s cheaper to run it till it’s empty. That’s pretty much how my wife and I run our gas-fired grill. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometime every summer, we end up with raw hamburger patties on the grill instead of those green chile cheeseburgers we had our mouths set for.

Maybe today, me and the other four riders are raw hamburger.

It takes me about 20 minutes to get to the Transit Facility. In that time, I haven’t seen any southbound buses. At the center, all the terminal doors are open, and I see three buses in their respective lanes ready to go...for in the morning. No lights, no drivers.

Uh huh, I think to myself. Nobody wants to send out a bus that’s already been prepped for the next day. The next one out on the route will have to do. It’s just 30 minutes...

I snap a picture of the terminal.

As soon as I finish, I see a 300 entering a fourth lane from the back. But it doesn’t stop at the front with the other three buses. It pulls out and turns south. The route signage in the front is out, and when it turns into the street, there’s no route number light in the back.

I believe I’m gonna have to eat some crow here.

But the race is still no contest. When I get to Central and look back, all I see is a long line of cars and trucks and a couple of red and white UNM school buses.

I call my wife and let her know I’ll be late for dinner.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

BUS STORY # 256 (Polite)

Bus Etiquette by Mr Hyde
Bus Etiquette, a photo by Mr Hyde on Flickr.

Bus etiquette poster on London buses featuring five ways riders can be polite written on their shirts. From left to right:
“I’ll offer that person my seat.”
“I’ll keep my temper down.”
“I won’t drop litter.”
“I won’t play my music out loud.”
And my favorite:
“And I’ll remember what it was like being 14.”

The ride home is crowded this afternoon. We stop, and one of the boarders is an older guy. He reminds me of one of my brothers-in-law except for the short haircut. He’s wearing jeans and an old-fashioned football jacket without a letter.

He moves down the aisle and stands by the rear door.

The three-seater bench facing the back door is occupied by two women, a purse, and a backpack. One of the women grabs the stuff off the seat, moves the backpack down by her feet, and asks the man if he’d like to sit.

He tells her he’s fine, he doesn’t have far to go.

A few stops later, the woman gets up to exit. The man turns to address her, looks her directly in the eye, and says in a warm and gentle voice, “Thank you for offering me a seat.”

After she exits, he takes her seat.

A little while later, he gets back up and stands by the rear door. Then he reaches up for the cord, but there is no cord over the door. He looks around. One of the guys on the platform tells him he’ll get it for him and pulls the cord.

Before the man exits, he turns to face the rider on the platform and, looking him straight in the eye, says in that same voice, “Thank you for pulling that cord for me.”

He steps out onto the sidewalk, then breaks into a trot toward the front of the bus. He stops by the still-open front door. I can see him lean his head in toward the opening. I don’t hear everything, but I do hear “Thank you.”

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