Sunday, October 06, 2013

BUS STORY # 361 (The Hypnotist)


We are riding the Green Line into town.

At the Eubank stop, several people board. Two of them get my attention.

One is a very tall, thin black man in slacks, a gray shirt and dark tie, and a red sweater vest. He’s probably late middle-aged. He’s clean-shaven, wears his hair closely cropped, and has on a pair of heavy black plastic-frame glasses. He takes the seat just behind the first exit doors.

The second is a short, round woman with a krinkly face whose race or ethnicity run the range of my guesswork from Eskimo to Hispanic to eastern European. She looks in her early 70’s. She’s wearing a long white coat and a wide headband with white feathers, with her own white hair looking like it’s pouring out from beneath the feathers behind her.

She takes the seat just in front of the first exit doors.

A block or so before San Pedro, she pulls the cord. The next stop is a mile away, at San Mateo. But when we blow by San Pedro, she stands up and starts shouting at the driver that she wanted to get off at San Pedro.

The driver looks at her in the rearview mirror and says, “This is the Rapid Ride, ma’am. The next stop is San Mateo.”

He has just wasted his breath. She wants to know why he didn’t stop the bus.

In the mirror, I can see his mouth open as if to reply, but he seems to realize either she doesn’t, or won’t, understand what he is telling her. His mouth closes, and his eyes return to the road.

She steps out into the aisle now, and launches into a streaming complaint.

The tall black man calls out to her. She turns to look at him. His hand is up like a student’s asking to be recognized.

He explains to her that this particular bus only makes a few stops because it is an express bus. It doesn’t stop at all the usual places. So what she will have to do is wait until the next stop at San Mateo, get off the bus there, cross the street, then wait for the regular bus, not the Rapid Ride, and take it back to San Pedro.

The whole time he is explaining this to her, his right arm remains raised on high, and his explanation is accompanied by a series of graceful, almost hypnotic, right hand gestures ending with a very long index finger pointing, at a right angle to his hand, to across the street.

I don’t know if it’s him, or his hypnotic hand, or the fact that he is a rider like herself and not an official of ABQ RIDE, but she listens to him. When he has finished, she repeats the last instructions: get off the bus, cross to the other side, catch the regular bus.

I see him nod his head as he tells her yes, and his hand comes down.

She says something I cannot make out, but she moves from the aisle into the space by the exit doors.

When we stop at San Mateo, she gets out. I watch her walk past my window toward the corner. Her white hair streams out from beneath her feathers.

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