Sunday, March 25, 2012

BUS STORY # 281 (In Tia’s World)

Woman and child by Vagabond Shutterbug
Woman and child, a photo by Vagabond Shutterbug on Flickr.

I hear a cell phone ringing faintly but nearby. The woman next to me slaps the side of her purse, then says to it: “You can ring all you want. I’m on the bus.”

She’s probably in her 50s, more a tia than an abuela what with her gray hair clippered close on the sides and back, and piled in curls on top of her head.

She looks over at me, and explains.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve told them not to call me when I’m on the bus.”

She doesn’t explain who “they” are, but she does go on to explain they’re just going to have to wait because she’s not about to have a private conversation on the bus where everybody can hear everything. As if there were ever anything to overhear.

I can tell from her voice she means what she says.

A little later, we watch a girl board with a stroller and baby. She’s a practiced bus-riding mama. She’s got the kid tucked under her left arm, has the stroller propped against the till and pinned there with her right thigh, and has her purse perfectly positioned so she can reach her bus pass with her right hand and slide it through the slot. She gets it right the first time, too.

Tia, looking straight ahead, says, “Too young, too young.”

I don’t say anything. The girl looks like she might be out of high school.

She deftly maneuvers her plus-size self, her baby, and the stroller, to the side bench behind the driver and settles in.

“You know some of them get tired of them after a while and don’t take care of them. Or worse.”

I start to answer our young mom doesn’t look like she’s that kind of mom, but I stop myself. I sense her mind is already made up on this particular topic, and so I let it ride.

A little later, she says, still looking straight ahead, “Can you believe this cop tried to give me a ticket for crossing the street.”

I look at her, but don’t say anything. I figure the look says “Tell me more,” and I am right.

She tells me she was returning to her house from across the street and stopped in the median to wait for the traffic to clear. The cop came along and told her she was jaywalking.

“‘I beg your pardon?’ I told him.”

She says he started spouting something about the law and told her he could write her a ticket, or else give her a warning, and he wasn’t sure which he was going to do.

She told him to do whatever he had to do. But she thought it was pretty silly to expect her to walk halfway down the block to cross at the corner, then walk halfway back up the block to her house.

She says he was young. She guessed he didn’t have anything better to do that morning. But he didn’t give her a ticket. He told her he made the rounds in this neighborhood and he better not catch her standing on the median anymore.

She gets off the stop before mine.

“Have a good day,” she tells me.

I figure I’d better do as she says. I don’t want any trouble.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Woman and child,” and is posted with the kind permission of Vagabond Shutterbug. You can see all Vagabond Shutterbug’s photos on Flickr at:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

BUS STORY # 280 (Shorts 24)

Waiting for the Bus by DWinton
Waiting for the Bus, a photo by DWinton on Flickr.

I’m waiting for the Rapid at The Frontier when a woman on a single crutch approaches me. “Sir, would you like to buy a brand new leather jacket so I can pay for antibiotics for my leg?” She’s as tall as I am, a bit thinner, and she is wearing a black leather jacket that looks brand new. Straight off the rack, I’d say. I think it just might fit me, too, but I decline her offer.


Overheard on the 50:
“It’s really cold this morning.”
“It’s not all that cold.”
“Sure is. I froze my butt off this morning.”
“Last week was colder.”
“Couldn’t have been”.
“Why not?”
“I didn’t freeze my butt off last week.”


The kid’s probably 12. Long hair, hoodie, skateboard. He’s got two dollars, and he’s having trouble putting the first bill in the till. The driver asks him how many times he’s gonna ride the bus today. Three. Well, then, the driver tells him, it’d be cheaper to just pay 35 cents for each ride than buy the two-dollar day pass. He’d save nearly a dollar. The kid pauses, then returns to working the till. He finally gets the bill in, and the second, and takes his day pass. The driver just shakes his head.


Young guy and I are shooting the breeze at the bus stop. He tells me he’s in a good mood because tomorrow’s pay day. He gets paid once a week. I reply it’s Monday, and ask if he really gets paid every Tuesday. He does. His boss pays them every Tuesday instead of every Friday because he thinks there’s a greater chance they’ll go home Tuesday night and pay their bills than if they got paid on Friday and went out partying. I ask him if that really works. Pretty well, he tells me.

The photo at the top of this story is titled “Waiting for the Bus,” and is posted with the kind permission of DWinton. You can see all DWinton’s’s photos on Flickr at: DWinton's photostream.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

BUS STORY # 279 (Workin’ It)

The bus pulls over for three young dudes near the airport. They look like high schoolers, and it’s ten a.m. on a school day.

When the doors open, one of them moves onto the first step and asks if this bus goes to Isleta and Rio Bravo.

No, says the driver. You need to go downtown and catch the Isleta bus.

The kid looks bummed. He turns and steps off, but the driver calls out they should just get on the bus here.

You turn around at the airport?

That’s right, the driver says, and then I go back downtown.

The kids board in a row. The first two swipe their passes and head for the back.

The third kid flashes his pass and heads for the back.

Hey, hey, hey, come back here, says the driver. That thing is expired.

The kid comes back. The driver takes the pass from him and looks at it.

It expired yesterday, he tells the kid.

The kid says he’s only got a dollar.

What he’s telling the driver is that he needs two dollars to ride this bus downtown, then transfer to the Isleta bus.

The driver listens, says nothing. The kid just stands there.

I’m gonna let you ride, says the driver, but you’re gonna need that buck when you get downtown. Isleta isn’t gonna let you ride for free.

The kid nods, turns, heads for the back. He grins at his friends in the back of the bus.

Something about that grin’s got me thinking he’s gonna try it again downtown. Worked here, didn’t it?

Thanks to Today’s Bus Story for this week’s featured link from Salon.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

BUS STORY # 278 (Kids and Grownups)

Get on The Bus Event 2009 by CACorrections
Get on The Bus Event 2009, © All Rights Reserved, a photo by CACorrections on Flickr.

From back to front, the three-seater facing the rear exit door is filled with a large, stuffed canvas tote, a mom, and her kindergarden-age daughter. In front of them is a stroller with a boy in the one-year-old range.

Mom and daughter are having a great time. They are playing some kind of word game, and they are both into it, and each other. There’s a lot of animated back-and-forth, some squealing, and much laughter. One of the rewards is a kiss from mom.

It would be hard to imagine a happier little girl’s face.

The boy is sitting quietly in his stroller. He’s oblivious to what’s going on between his mom and sister, and is fixated on the high school kid sitting next to me who’s eating a candy bar. I’m wondering if this means he’s hungry.

Several stops later, a young man and woman board the bus and work their way to the back.

The game is interrupted when mom gets up and she and the guy hug. Then she and the woman hug. Then the couple takes the empty seat just forward of the bench seat.

It is now the three adults who are interacting, and the little girl is looking up at them, moving from face to face, her own face fretful and imploring and hopeful that things will get back to where they were with mom.

Things don’t, of course. I can see the moment she gives up hope. She drops her head, shifts her gaze to some middle distance across the aisle.

It would be hard to imagine a more disconsolate little girl’s face.

The young man reaches down and rubs the head of the little boy. The little boy, facing toward the back, is startled. He twists toward mom, trying to see where this rubbing is coming from.

The man stops for a bit, then resumes. The kid starts to cry. His sister leans forward in her seat and stretches out her arm and hand. Her brother sees her hand and grasps it.

They hold on tightly to one another.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Get on The Bus Event 2009," © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the kind permission of CACorrections. You can see all CACorrections’s photos on Flickr at: CACorrections' photostream.