Sunday, November 23, 2014

BUS STORY # 420 (The Other Side Of The Mountain)

Albuquerque and the Sandia Mts.  Downloaded from Retire in New Mexico.

It’s a pretty cool November morning when I take the front row seat on one of the new 600s. Sitting on the aisle-facing bench seat in front of me is a kid who looks like he’s in high school. He looks over at me and says he didn’t think it would be this cold this morning.

He’s wearing an orange T-shirt. I see a lot of kids wearing T-shirts in this kind of weather. I read somewhere it’s supposed to be a school kid’s I’m-a-tough-guy kind of thing. But a tough guy wouldn’t be telling me it’s cold this morning. He doesn’t look like he’s trying to look like a tough guy, either.

I tell him it’s been cool like this for a few mornings now.

He tells me he’s surprised. He’s from the other side of the mountain, and he didn’t think the city got this cold.

I ask him where on the other side of the mountain.

Moriarty.

Moriarty is a town of some 2,000 folks forty miles east of Albuquerque. To get there, you take I-40 through Tijeras Pass -- “Scissors” Pass -- which cuts between the Sandia and Monzano Mountains.

“You really are from the other side of the mountain,” I tell him. I ask if he’s going to school here.

He’s out of school, and glad to be. He’s on his way to work at one of the sports stores in town. He says he told his his boss he ought to hire him given all the stuff he’s bought over the years. He laughs.

So he lives here now?

He does. Going on four months now. That makes me wonder how it is that this is the first morning he's noticed the cold.

I ask if he’s glad to be in the big city, or if he finds he’s missing home.

He misses home. Says this straight up. Says it may be country, but he just feels more comfortable there.

And that’s when I understand what’s going on. A city kid wouldn’t be likely to start up a conversation with an old guy on the bus, especially a conversation that showed some vulnerability, some loneliness.

I think about asking him if he has any plans beyond the sports store. But then I think better of it. Maybe he’s already having those thoughts himself. And, even if he isn’t, he doesn’t need any more second-guessing material from me this morning.

I give him a smile, he smiles back, and we lapse into silence. I get off before he does, and wish him luck. Surely he’ll be going home for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t think to ask at the time. Then I think better of asking that question, too. Anything other than a heartfelt yes would have been hard for both of us.

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