Saturday, October 27, 2012

BUS STORY # 312 (Tenderfoot)

In Pain? by busboy4
In Pain?, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

When the bus pulls up to the stop, the driver opens the door and there is a pause.  Then he puts the bus in the kneeling position.

An old guy gets on.  He’s limping badly, and he’s slow.  He runs his pass through the slot, then hobbles with little steps toward the bench seat behind the driver.  The young guy sitting in the middle seat with his backpack to his left grabs the pack, scoots over, and invites the old man to sit.  The old guy thanks him and sits.

He tells the young guy he’s on his way to the hospital.  He’s either got a blood clot or a fracture, they don’t know which.  He thinks it’s a blood clot because he had one last year and his foot looks and feels the same.

You know those compression stockings they tell you to wear to keep the swelling down, he asks the young guy.  The young guy says he does.

Well, they’re a great idea if you’ve got the strength to pull them on, and don’t have to pull them over a sore and swollen foot.

This reminds me of my mother.  The fact that the stockings worked for her did not offset the discomfort of having them put on by someone else, and then keeping them on, and she eventually refused to wear them.

He recognizes a woman in one of the rows facing forward, and when we reach a red light, he little-steps his way to the seat across the aisle from her. I'm in the window seat right next to him.

He sits facing her across the aisle and explains his medical predicament. Then, after her expressions of sympathy, I hear him tell her he’s sorry to hear about her mother.

Later, he asks her about her bus pass. It’s a monthly pass, she tells him. He tells her he bought an annual pass.

You pay, what, twelve dollars a month for your pass, right?

That’s right.

That’s, let’s see, twelve time ten...a hundred and twenty...a hundred and forty-four dollars a year. I pay ninety. That’s a savings of fifty four dollars a year. Plus, you don’t have to go pick one up every month.

She tells him she will look into that. She gets off shortly afterwards.

At University Hospital, he asks me to pull the cord. The riders in the front who are getting off wait for him to hobble past them to the front, then turn and head for the rear exit.

The driver kneels the bus for him.

I find myself wondering who he tells them to put down when they ask him who to notify in case of emergency. Family or friend? In town or out? Who will know or care if it’s a clot or a fracture?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

BUS STORY # 311 (Broken)

It’s the morning run, and when we pull up at the light at the intersection of Lomas and Juan Tabo, we see another # 11 bus parked at the bus stop across the intersection.  The driver is walking toward the rear of the bus with the reflecting triangles in his hand.

It’s one of the newer buses.  I’ve heard a rumor that the 700 series buses have been breaking down with an alarming frequency, and that no one has figured out why. The 900s are said to be exactly the same as the 700s -- just newer -- and they are not having a problem.

That’s the rumor, anyway.

We can see from the riders standing on the sidewalk that the bus ahead of us was close to full.

We pull past the bus and stop.  The riders pour in, filling all the empty seats and about three-quarters of the aisle.

One of the riders sits down beside me.

“Looks like your bus broke down,” I say.

Well, not exactly, he tells me.

Turns out a kid’s bus pass was expired and he wanted the driver to let him ride anyway.

The driver said no.

The kid got off the bus, and after the doors closed, whacked the side of the bus with his skateboard.

The driver got up and opened the door, and the kid backed off.

The driver sat back down and started to pull away.

That’s when the kid hurled a rock through the passenger side window by the front door.

It didn’t hit the rider sitting there, but there were glass fragments all over him.

This surprises me.  I thought the glass would just craze, but not shatter.

No, he tells me, that rock put a hole in the window.

So did the driver call the cops?

He did. And while he was calling, the kid just walked off up Eubank like nothing had happened.

My co-rider thinks he should be easy to find if the cops get right on it. I’m thinking the bus probably has the kid on camera.

I find myself wondering how he plans to get to school in the future. Although it wouldn’t come as a complete surprise if he showed up at the same bus stop at the same time tomorrow morning. It sounds like he could be that bright.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BUS STORY # 310 (Shorts 27)

Rise Up! by busboy4
Rise Up!, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.


She’s got one of those old silver “flying saucer” CD players on her lap and ear buds in each ear.  She’s been sitting there quietly, looking straight ahead, when she takes the CD player and makes a sandwich out of it with both hands.  Her hands are in the “praying hands” formation, the player in between.  I look up and see her head bowed, her eyes shut tight, and a furrowed forehead.  She maintains this pose for several minutes, including through one stop.  Then she puts the player back in her lap, reaches for a medallion hanging from around her neck, kisses it and makes a quick Sign of the Cross with it.  Then she opens her eyes and is back on the bus with the rest of us.


Like a lot of other riders this morning, he’s taken one seat and put his backpack in the other.  He stands out for a couple of reasons.  First, he’s the only guy on the bus wearing a shirt and tie.  And second, his face is late 60s but his hair is a monotone brown.  He’s reading a book, and he stays deep into it as the bus gradually fills up.  The third reason he ends up standing out is this:  After one boarder takes a standing position by the rear doors, he looks up from his book, scans the bus, then puts his backpack on the floor and moves over by the window.  He’s the only guy whose backpack was taking up another seat who does this.


The rider directly in front of me is reading a book. I look over his shoulder -- her shoulder? -- I can see a blue quilted jacket and red hair pulled back in a pony tail, but for the life of me, I can’t tell my co-rider’s gender from where I’m sitting. But I can see the pages of the book, and he or she is reading -- poetry! Poetry on the bus! I can make out the title of the poem on the right hand page: “The Life.” A few minutes later, the page is turned, and I see “One Thing Or Another.” Later, I will google both titles. On, “One Thing Or Another” turns up a recent author, Zane Lewis. Posted just last month. Too new for the book, I suspect. “The Life” strikes out. Zane Lewis the poet strikes out, too. Unless he’s also Zane Lewis the Texas country singer or the Brooklyn visual artist.


Our driver is in a bad mood today.  He isn’t acknowledging the greetings of the regulars, and he doesn’t have any patience for riders deciding to locate their fare or pass after they’ve reached the till. Between stops, the runs are fast and the stops are hard.  A woman sitting in the bench seats across from the driver announces to the rest of us that she’s been knowing this driver for a long time now, but this afternoon, he won’t even give her the time of day.  We watch the driver's right arm shoot out, index finger pointing above the windshield to where the date and time ribbon is streaming across.  The front end of the bus erupts with laughter.


Thanks to Paul Ingles right here in Albuquerque for this week’s featured link from Chicago’s Third Coast International Audio Festival.


Back in January, I started a sidebar project called This Week’s Featured Bus Song. This week is the final post in the series -- an outstanding version of “The Wheels On The Bus (Go Round And Round)” by Mad’Donna. You can read about the idea behind it here. It’s been fun. Thanks, Mer.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

BUS STORY # 309 (Jim's Bus Story # 1: Greyhound Blues)

Greyhound and Amtrak Station by 77krc
Greyhound and Amtrak Station, a photo by 77krc on Flickr.

We met Jim in the commons room of the Palace Hotel, in downtown Silver City.

He’s from near Blackpool, in the Lake District up by Scotland, in what you could call the Atlantic Northwest. He came to the States to hike the Continental Divide Trail.

Back in 2002, he hiked the Pacific Coast Trail and loved it.

This one’s been tougher.  Fellow hikers are rare.  And there are whole sections where there is no trail, and you are left working out a route with compass and map.

He left from Glacier National Park in Montana on June 8.  It’s just a couple of days till October when we meet him at The Palace.

He says the trail ends at Antelope Springs, on the Mexican border in the state’s boot hill.

He’s not going there.

He’s going to end his trip instead at Columbus, New Mexico, also on the border, but unlike Antelope Springs, a town where he can get public transportation in the form of the Greyhound Bus.

He’s taking the bus to Albuquerque where the daughter of a colleague back in England has settled with her new husband.  He’ll visit a couple of days, then fly back home.

Getting the Greyhound has been problematic.  He’d walked over to the library at Western New Mexico University and tried to purchase Greyhound tickets from Columbus to Albuquerque online.

The Greyhound site didn’t work.

First, it could not accommodate his English cell phone number.

When he used his friend’s daughter’s number to set up a purchase with hold at Columbus, the site would only allow him to input the area code.

When he decided to try the option of printing the tickets then and there, and after paying a dollar to get a card from the university to allow printing, the site wouldn’t let him input the last four of his friend’s daughter’s American phone number.

He called Greyhound.  He says he spoke with someone from India.  “I couldn’t understand him, and he couldn’t understand me.”

They did understand one another sufficiently to work out an arrangement: He could pre-purchase the ticket by phone for an extra $20.00 in exchange for a “corporate number” as proof of purchase when he reached Columbus.

He says his complaint about the web site fell on uncomprehending ears.  He suspects a twenty-dollar selective hearing problem over in Greyhound India.

He doesn’t know if there’s really gonna be a ticket waiting for him at Columbus or not.  But he does know from his experiences on the trail that things always seem to work out.

He’s already thinking about The Appalachian Trail.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Greyhound and Amtrak Station,” and is posted with the kind permission of 77krc. You can see all 77krc’s photos on Flickr at: