Sunday, December 27, 2015

BUS STORY # 477 (The Kindness Of Strangers)

Downloaded from Busted Halo.

My daughter lives in Brooklyn. This is the story she told me about a time she took the A train to JFK.

If you’re taking the A train to JFK airport in NYC, you want to take the route to Far Rockaway, not the route to Lefferts Boulevard. Think of it like the San Mateo bus here: if you want to get to all those office complexes south of Balloon Fiesta Park, you take the 140, not the 141.

My daughter was going to JFK when the A train pulled into her station. It was going the other way, but she was anxious to get going, and she knew she could transfer later at an above-ground station.

She’d just taken a seat and pulled her suitcase up beside her when a young man approached her asking if she was going to the airport.

Yes she was.

Ah, well, he explained, this route didn’t go to the airport, and he told her which station to get off at to get on the correct route.

She didn’t feel the need to explain herself, and simply thanked him.

He asked where she was from.

Well... She told him she was from Brooklyn and laughed a little sheepishly.

Ah, so she already knew all this.

Yes she did, but she very much appreciated his thoughtfulness and willingness to help out someone who might well have been lost.

It can be confusing, he acknowledged, and said he usually offered to help anyone he saw with a suitcase.

My daughter got off at her station. She was waiting for the train, her suitcase by her side, when she was approached by a teenaged girl who explained to her the next train coming was the train to the airport. She thanked the girl for being so helpful, and felt really good about her fellow New Yorkers.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

BUS STORY # 476 (A Bus Story For Christmas, 2015)

Downloaded from Global Cool.

Nathan Vass is a King County Metro bus driver. He’s also a blogger, and his posts are mostly about his experiences while driving a bus in Seattle.

At the end of last year, he shared a bus story with a storytelling group in Seattle. The story was videotaped, and he posted that video on his blog, The View from Nathan's Bus.

It is not a Christmas story in the strict sense of the term, but it is very much a Christmas story in spirit. Also in theme: not unlike a certain man and his pregnant wife, a rider shows up in a strange city with no place to stay.

Here’s Nathan telling his story:

Thanks, Nathan. And may the spirit of Christmas give all of us more stories like this one.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

BUS STORY # 475 (Portrait # 31: The Older Woman)

Downloaded from Lets Restycle.

The first time I saw her, I was amused. She’d just boarded and was talking to the driver. It was impossible not to notice: a slim woman in tight black leather jeans with an abstract diamond pattern in blue below the knees. Black and white diagonally striped tunic. Big black designer sunglasses. Hair short and feathered and white as snow.

White as snow and natural. I couldn’t be sure from where I was sitting, but I sensed I was only a few years behind her.  I remember thinking of a Leonard Cohen song for which I reversed pronouns:

I grew old and wrinkled
You stayed seventeen.

But here’s the thing. Most women this age trying to pull this off would have looked utterly ridiculous. I was amused, but also impressed. Good for her. I don’t recall any other thoughts, or where she got off. Maybe I got off first. I don’t remember.

I saw her again this afternoon.

She must have boarded before me because I didn’t see her until she came down from the back of the bus and stood by the rear door. Long, horizontally-striped black and white sheath dress, with a black scarf. Black gloves, not on, but in her left hand.

She wore makeup. Not the garish, old lady makeup that so often turns a fine old face into a travesty. Her makeup actually enhanced her age in such a way that I could see she looked good now rather than making me wonder what she looked like back in the day.

Not an old woman. The older woman.

I found myself wanting to tell her how good she looked. I rehearsed in my head: ma’am, you look fine. No. Ma’am, I just wanted you to know -- No. Ma’am -- and then I had the awful realization that I was at least twenty years too old for this compliment to matter.

The bus reached her stop. I could see the height and distance between the bus floor and the sidewalk, and I thought her dress was too restrictive for her to manage the gap. But she pulled the dress up a bit -- just enough for me to get a glimpse of sheer black stockings and tiny black boots, cuffed, with little heels -- and she stepped off that bus with absolute grace, as if this bus were just one more limousine and her exit just another grand entrance.

She didn’t need me to tell her she looked terrific.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

BUS STORY # 474 (The Sports Fan)

Photo by Busboy

I board the bus one afternoon and take a seat. Across the aisle, I spot one of the Lomas regulars from back when I was working. He grins and offers his hand.

I know him as a professor at UNM teaching graduate students advanced electrical engineering. He tells me he has one more class to go before he is officially retired. Before I can ask him what he plans to do with all his free time, the guy behind us asks, “UNM?”

I recognize him, too. He usually sits in the seat across from the driver and talks non-stop. He’s articulate, and he’s always sounded knowledgeable, although I couldn’t begin to vouch for the accuracy of whatever he was talking about.

Today, he wants to talk about the UNM football team, and he has some opinions about the current coach and the team and the current season.

To set the stage, on this particular afternoon the UNM Lobos are 6-5 with one more game to go this weekend. The good news is that we actually have a shot at a winning season, something that no knowledgeable local would have put money on at the beginning of the season -- or the middle, either. We were excited when we won four games last year.

The bad news is our final game is with Air Force Academy who is 8-3, and 6-1 in the conference. The odds of our winning are slim. But I try countering some of his criticism by noting, hey, we’ve won six games.

He explains that two of those wins should have been losses. He provides play-by-play details, and tells us we didn’t win those games, the other teams lost them. I momentarily consider pointing out the win-loss column doesn’t take such subtleties into consideration, but I know I would be wasting my time -- and encouraging more discussion, of which the professor and I have already had a sufficiency.

He goes on to lay out the historical and political circumstances spanning the last three coaches to explain how we came by our current coach, and concludes he’s just here to stabilize the program. They need to let him go when his contract is up.

Across the aisle, the professor catches my eye and gives me a can-you-believe-this-guy grin.

Analysis and opinion continue to flow until we get to his stop. When the doors close, the professor just shakes his head. “A lot of that stuff just isn’t true.” I’ve heard stories, but the truth is, I’m not really a fan.

We get back to talking about retirement. He’s got plans to do some consulting work, and to travel. He says he was thinking about Europe until the attacks on Paris. At his stop, we shake hands again and I wish him luck.

We have no way of knowing that, come Saturday, UNM will upset Air Force 31-14, and we’ll finish the season 7-5. But I’m gonna have to wait for another ride some time after Saturday to find out if we really won it, or if Air Force lost it.