Sunday, November 20, 2011

BUS STORY # 263 (Mer’s Bus Story # 1: “Bus Go. I Here.”)

Our bus in Macedonia by Dave Proffer
Our bus in Macedonia, a photo by Dave Proffer on Flickr.

One of my nieces spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.  During a recent visit,  she shared a couple of her own bus stories from her time in Macedonia.

Mer had taken the bus into Skopje, the capitol, for a day trip.  It was a cold winter day.  The bus to her town, Debar, was more like a shuttle van, holding about 20 people, max.  The buses run approximately every couple of hours, and she was in the habit of catching the second-to-last bus home.  That gave her a one-bus cushion just in case.  This bus left the Skopje station at 2:00 in the afternoon.   

The ride back to her village took about three hours, much of which was taken up by stops at the villages and smaller towns along the way.  

About halfway to Debar, the final destination, the driver would stop for a break so the passengers could use the restroom, stop for a snack, have a quick smoke. In the wintertime, it was pretty dark by the time the bus took the break.  There was no prescribed time for the break.  Everybody just seemed to know when it was time to return to the bus.  This town was also one of the stops along the way, so some passengers would leave the bus for good.

Mer had developed a taste for a certain kind of candy bar with a soft, brownie-like center.  She went into a nearby shop to buy one, but the shop didn’t have one.  She went on to the next shop.  Again, no luck.  

She decided against looking any further and headed out toward the bus, only to see it pulling out into the roadway.  She ran shouting and waving after it, to no avail.  When she saw the taillights turning the corner, she knew she really had missed the bus.

Her first thought was that even though her overnight bag was still on the bus, thank goodness she had her purse, cell phone and coat. Her second thought was that at least she could catch the last bus from Skopje as it came through for its break.  However, that wouldn't happen for another two and a half hours.

Across the street, another bus from the same company was parked, facing the opposite direction.  Several of the bus drivers knew Mer, as she had been living in her home village for about a year.  This driver saw her running after her bus shouting and waving, and called her over.  Mer explained that, in the emotional shock of the moment, her command of the language disintegrated.  She described her response to the driver as her pointing down the empty road and saying the Macedonian equivalent of “Bus go,” then at herself, and saying, “I here.”  

The driver understood.  Since he belonged to the same transportation company, he had the other bus drivers' cell phone numbers.  He made a call and told the driver he had to turn around and come back -- he’d “left the American behind.”  He then gave Mer a card with all of the bus drivers' numbers, in case something like this ever happened to her again.

After a few minutes, Mer's bus reappeared.

Her bus driver apologized profusely when he did, explaining he’d been careful to ask if everyone was on board (and, as Mer pointed out, after all, she hadn’t say “no...”).

Mer also apologized profusely, realizing everyone else had been delayed on her account.  But no one seemed upset.  Once again, as she had experienced so many times before in so many other situations, she was among a generous people who truly practiced caring for the strangers among them.

The photo at the top of this story is “Our bus in Macedonia,” and is posted with the kind permission of Dave Proffer. You can see this and all Dave Proffer’s photos on Flickr at:


Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving also to Brenda and other regular readers - Busboy’s adoring fans ;>)
This story reminds me of when my sister and I went to Atlantic City in New Jersey. It was a year after we came to NYC-America. We just wanted to see the beach, not to gamble or to see a show. After walking along the boardwalk and around the Casinos, we went back to the terminal only to be told that we should have been there 15 minutes before the departure schedule. We probably had about 10dollars in our pocket, not enough to get back to NYC. After much begging, another bus driver was kind and willing to let us on his bus. All was well until the bus dropped us off at a subway station in Queens, and when my sister who had Muscular Dystrophy fell down on the sidewalk, I started crying like a baby! The passengers told the bus driver that he should drive us home. We were dropped off in front of our building. It probably took the driver and the passengers an extra 30 minutes to get back to their terminal. We apologized for causing the problem and repeatedly thanked everyone for their kindness. They all said, “fuggedaboutit”. 30+ years later and I still remember “the generous people – the many kind New Yorkers - who practiced caring for the strangers among them”. And this is my bus story :>)
BTW, thanks for your comments. I enjoy reading your stories and much appreciation for sharing.
Again, Happy Thanksgiving to ya’ll :>)

9:37 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

What a marvelous bus story, TOTA! I'd love to write this up for a post on Bus Stories. Here is busboy's email address:

I'd love to collaborate with you on this.

Regardless, thanks so much for sharing this with us.

A happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

10:16 AM  

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