Sunday, March 15, 2015

BUS STORY # 436 (Volunteer)

Reproduction of an untitled painting by Michael Christiana featured at an ABQ RIDE bus stop on Wyoming. Photo by Busboy

It’s just a short ride from Lomas to Central on the San Mateo southbound. I’ve picked up a prescription, and I’m planning to catch the Red Line to La Montanita for some grocery shopping.

I sit down beside a guy who turns to me and says “Good morning.” Close cut hair, glasses. He looks like the tall and lanky type. I’m guessing early 40s, but he could also be the older-than-he-looks type, too. He doesn’t have headphones or earbuds, isn’t scrolling through a smart phone, isn’t reading a book or a newspaper or a magazine.

“Good morning,” I reply. “Beautiful weather.”

“Yeah,” he says, and goes on to say they keep telling us cold weather is coming, but so far, we’ve dodged the bullet.

I tell him I don’t mind the cold as long as the wind isn’t blowing.

He agrees with that, and tells me the other day when he was volunteering down at the VA, that big flag was stretched straight out and popping in the wind.

“You’re a volunteer at the VA?” Then I ask, “What do you do?”

He troubleshoots computer problems. There are plenty of problems to keep him busy. Now that I think about it, yup, he look like an engineer.

I want to ask if he’s working on the VA’s computers or the patients’, but I don’t have a lot of time before we reach Central, so I ask him why he volunteers.

He tells me he’s a disabled veteran and he doesn’t have anything else to do. He says he’s also trying to set up an art therapy program. He corrects himself: “Art in therapy.” One of the other vets told him he has to be a licensed counselor to be an art therapist. “I just paint,” he explains.

I tell him it’s a good thing to be volunteering. He says it’s good for him, that’s for sure. He invites me to check out the program there. “There’s plenty to do,” he tells me.

We’re at the Central stop, so I wish him good luck and head out the back door. He’s on his way to the VA, at the end of the line.

__________


Michael Christiana is one of six New Mexico artists who also served in the Armed Forces, and whose work is being featured by ABQ RIDE's "Art in Transit" series. Check out this week’s side link under This Week in Albuquerque.

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