Sunday, May 04, 2014

BUS STORY # 391 (Shorts # 35: Same Day, Same Driver)

Photo by Busboy.

Most bus rides are uneventful. A few, however, will have something happen, and sometimes what happens is interesting enough to warrant a “short,” if not a full bus story.

This particular day, however, I had a bus ride full of strange little stories, a complete set of shorts all in one day, all with the same driver.


We stop for a woman who tells the driver he needs to wait until her kids get here. They are inside the car dealership across the parking lot. He tells her he can’t wait until they show up. She turns and hollers at the kids, then starts giving the driver a bad time about his lousy customer service. The driver explains he has a bus load of customers who need to get places or make connections on time. Like most “it’s all about me” folks these days, she manages to recast her self-centeredness as his having a bad attitude. The kids finally make it to the bus (he’s waited), but she continues to bad mouth him throughout paying the fare, and after she sits down behind him.


I think it’s a woman I’m looking at across the aisle and one row forward. She’s sitting sideways, leaning against the window, with her knees pulled up and her feet in the aisle seat. She’s also got something pulled over her head and face which makes it look like there’s a giant Hostess Sno Ball covered with pastel blue coconut flakes sitting on top of her shoulders. The only thing I can think of is that she has some sort of facial disfigurement she doesn’t want shown in public. A few stops later, the driver comes back and taps her on the leg and tells her she needs to take her shoes off the seat where other people sit. She lifts up the front of her head cover and looks at him. I can’t see anything wrong with her face. Then she lets it drop back down, swings her legs off the seat, and faces forward. When she gets off the bus, she leaves her face fully covered.


At another stop, someone waiting to exit the back door yells “Back door!” The driver asks him to please pull the cord whenever he plans to exit because the driver is focused on the people boarding. Without the signal that tells him a stop has been requested, he may not notice someone at the back door and so not open it. First time I've ever heard a driver make this instructional point.


We stop for three women. They seemed a little disorganized when the door opens. Finally, one of them moves forward into the doorway. The driver tells her her friends are inebriated, and he can’t let them board. She turns around and steps back off the bus. Before the door closes, I hear her shout to one of the women, “He says you’re inebriated!”


Your classic little old lady is waiting at the stop. Short. Gray curly-permed hair, blue overcoat, low-heeled shoes. The driver kneels the bus for her. She is slow moving. She gets to the till and has her change ready but isn’t sure where to put it. He shows her. She asks him if he stops at one of the mid-block stops between the major intersections. He tells her yes, and he’ll tell her when that stop is coming up. He waits for her to find a seat. When we reach a major intersection, she rises and goes to the front to exit. The driver tells her he can get her right to where she wants to go, and to just hold on for two more stops. She does. When he kneels the bus at her stop, she thanks him, and slowly makes her way to the sidewalk.


Your not so classic old lady boards the bus. Tall. Wonderful Australian bush hat, brim unsnapped, front and back sloping downward. Blue denim jacket with brown sleeves. A small backpack. She puts her money in the till, then moves very slowly to the first row of seats. She doesn’t sit. She looks around, as if she is looking for a better seat, or maybe someone she knows. She stand there a long time. I am thinking if the bus takes off, she will take a tumble for sure. Apparently the driver thinks this, too. He waits patiently, and silently. She finally sits in the empty front row seats. The driver eases the bus back into traffic.


A rider is explaining to the driver that he has to take the bus because someone stole his car right out of his driveway. But he says it was kinda his fault because he hadn’t locked the doors. The driver tells him it’s crazy anyone should have to lock up their cars in their own driveway. The rider replies if he thinks that’s crazy, how about all that free enterprise in communist China? The driver shakes his head. I’d like to think he is not sure what to say about this bizarre right turn.


A rider he seems to know asks him if he thinks we’ll get rain or snow today. He answers he doesn’t think we’ll get either, but he does predict clouds.


Anonymous Gene said...

Charles - nice set of stories today.

I already sent my reply but will state it here:

Sunday paper, cup of coffee and a Bus Story - does not get any better : -)


6:24 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Gene, thank you for your kind words. You made my day.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Greg Platt said...

We have the same policy at UTA, with regard to inebriated passengers. I've always thought it quite stupid, to be honest. If someone goes the a bar and becomes intoxicated, the responsible thing is to take the bus home, rather than drive. Yet we have a policy that disallows it. I can understand the idea that if someone is belligerent, inebriated or not, they could be refused service or asked to disembark immediately. But to disallow service simply because alcohol can be smelled or because someone seems unsteady? This seems silly. Note: I'm not a drinker, so I have no personal stake in this.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I have the same thoughts: better on the bus than behind the wheel. But I also doubt these women even had access to a car. I don’t know what ABQ RIDE’s policy is, but assuming there is one, the drivers seem to have a lot of discretion over how and when to apply it. I know that on late night-early morning weekends and special holidays (the recent Cinco de Mayo, for example), the county provides free rides through its “Tavern Taxi” program. However, this particular encounter happened in the middle of a weekday, when the service is not available. The women seemed incapacitated rather than obstreperous. Until the driver spoke to them, I thought the problem was they couldn’t make up their minds who was going to board first. I wonder if staying on schedule was the driver’s greater concern.

11:20 AM  

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