Sunday, April 08, 2012

BUS STORY # 283 (Interesting Ride Home This Evening)

We’re picking up a lot of riders on the way to Central, more than usual.

A large number of them board at the stop across from Project Share. One of those goes right past the till, no fare, no pass.

The driver calls out to her by name and tells her she needs to get back up there and pay the fare.

She is staggering, but I don’t think it’s alcohol.

She collapses onto a bench seat and tells the driver to keep his britches on. She goes through her purse and produces a bus pass.

The driver is encouraging the other boarders to hurry up, he wants to go home. He seems to know a lot of them by name.

Among the boarders is a woman and child. They take the seat behind me. The child is all wrapped up in a miniature Eskimo parka. I think it may be a boy, but I wouldn’t bet a bus pass on it. I don’t think he’s old enough to talk yet, but he can sing. And sing he does, wee wee wee, all the way home.

Once everyone is aboard, the woman who staggers gets up and works her way back to the till. Between her lurching and the lurching of the bus, I am waiting for her to fall. She doesn’t fall. But when she gets to the till, the driver says he’s already got her.

She staggers back to her seat.

We continue to take on more boarders and are almost full when we get to the corner of Cesar Chavez and Yale.

Four women board the bus. They look like they’ve been on the street. Three of them have swiped their passes and are working their way down the aisle looking for seats.

The fourth women makes the first step, then falls heavily, the lower half of her body over the stairs, and the upper half on the floor by the till.

The three women turn around and rush back to the front.

The woman on the floor calls out, “I’m not drunk.”

She does not sound like she’s not drunk.

“If you’re not drunk, how do you explain you’re bein’ on the floor?”

This from the driver.

The guy sitting across the aisle says he can smell the alcohol.

The other three women struggle to get her up. By the time they get her upright, all four of them are back on the sidewalk.

Quite abruptly, the woman who staggers jumps up and exits the bus.

The drivers calls out that if any of them want to ride this bus, they’d better get on now.

The drunk woman calls out something that I can’t make out but apparently the driver can. He slams the door shut and starts to pull out.

The woman who staggers is suddenly at the front door and shouting in a piercing voice to let her on, let her on.

The driver stops, opens the door, shouts the woman’s name, and asks her why she got off the bus in the first place.

She gets on, goes to her seat.

“I thought it was a code blue,” she finally answers.

“Who made you king of everything?” he asks.

She doesn’t answer for a minute, just sits there with a pouting face. Then, in a quiet voice, “I just wanted to help.”

The driver tells her she’s got all she can to do help herself.

The guy across the aisle by the door tells the driver the woman who fell left him a souvenir.

We all look. I can’t make it out, but the woman who staggers calls out, “It’s mine.”

“Now you’re lyin’,” replies the driver. “Don’t be tellin’ me no lies, now.”

She scowls. “I’m lyin’,” she finally says.

I still have no idea what’s on the floor, but I notice the driver isn’t keen on picking whatever it is up.

Throughout all of this, the kid has been singing happily away. I’m thinking this is one lucky mother.

We all get off at Central, including the mom and child. They go out ahead of me, and at the front, the driver asks her to say hello to her mom for him.

I walk down to the Frontier and catch what seems like an unusually quiet Rapid Ride home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fantastic amazing wonderful driver!
An artist in his own fashion. You captured him wonderfully for us.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I’m so glad this came through. This driver has a connection with this group of riders. During the course of this particular ride, I came to see him as the sometimes exasperated parent of a bunch of sometimes unruly children -- his own, and his extended family’s. But above all, whatever that story, they are family. Thank you for your comment.

9:17 AM  

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