Saturday, August 23, 2008

#9 in the Transit Epiphanies Series

This is going to be a multi-ride pass of bus stories I never got around to blogging:

1/20/2007--the coldest day I ever waited for a bus. There's a wild snowstorm that attacked the city around 1 pm and the Library has closed early. I am very glad I had the foresight that morning to wear my boots to work, but I'm a little irked that I felt the need to wear a skirt. Like everyone else, I exodus to the bus at 5 pm, hoping to get out of downtown within a couple of hours, traffic and snow being what it is.

I'm waiting at the bus stop and the 55 never comes. A young, cheerful guy is waiting with me. Everyone else is cranky, cold and occasionally mustering up the energy to state the bloomin' obvious, "the bus is late." It's been over 40 minutes and I begin to count the buses that go by. This is the second 38 I've seen, the third 24 and the third 71. I make a joke to my transit pal, "We're playing Texas Hold'em with buses!" He laughs and sez, "Yeah, we are! Check it out, I got two of a kind!" as a 71 whizzes past. We start taking serious note of the bus numbers. I'm up to two pair and he has five of a kind before a winner is declared. The winner is the person whose bus arrives first.

A couple of days later, I catch the last 55 heading south. We don't get more than three blocks when the bus stops abruptly in the middle of Main Street. No one pays any attention as we wait. But after about three minutes, passengers begin craning to see what the hold up is and we notice the bus driver getting agitated. Seems there's a car stopped in the middle of Main. And all the honking, yelling and obscene gestures can't get this blind, deaf, and idiotic auto-bovine to move.

Our bus driver angrily puts the bus in park and stomps off the bus. Those of us up front watch him walk to the driver's side of the stopped car and point angrily at the bus and then shake his finger in the driver's face. We watch our driver storm back to the bus, get back on and sit down heavily. He smacks his hands on the large steering wheel, then grips it tightly for a moment. His hands loosen on the wheel and the bus driver lets go. He quietly open the door again and steps off the bus. This time, he hails a cop, points to the obstinate driver and then returns to his bus.

The cop takes it from there. He saunters over to the reason for the by now cacophonous traffic jam and pleasantly addresses the driver. The driver still doesn't move. The cop leisurely pulls out his pad and issues the nuisance a ticket. The bus passengers cheer, the bus driver pastes a self-satisfied smile on his face and the inducer of road rage moves his car to the side of the road. Seems he's there to pick someone up from work and he's waiting for the person to arrive.

As the 55 starts making its way south, some of the passengers begin a conversation about evolution and road rage. I can't see the correlation myself, and go back to the book in my iPod.

8/20/08--I get the afternoon off for having worked a 14 hour day the night before. I'm boarding the 57 South Oak, which isn't a bad bus to ride and usually more interesting than the 55. Right after I board, a very strange, but nice enough man gets on. He's wearing a short sleeve shirt and khaki pants. Around his shin is tied a blue bandanna. It's a strange fashion statement, but, hey, could be seen on Project Runway next week.

The man sits down and greets the person next to him, a Metro bus driver on his way to pick up his next run, with, "Hey there Metro man, Metro Dan metro!". Loquacious Bandannaleg starts digging through his belongings, "I know it's here, I know I have it. My transfer is in my pants. My transfer is in my box. I'm on my tenth cigarette. I sit right here next to the metro bus man." The resting driver doesn't even look at his seatmate who continues the running commentary on In Search of...Bus Transfers.

"Bless yer heart. It's here, it's right here. What? Yes, sir, kind man. I'll sit down and shut up. It's in my bag. It's in my pants. There's my cigarettes! Oh, here it is. Here you are, sir." It's about five stops since Bandannaleg boarded and he holds out his bus pass to the driver and the driver points to the fare box. Bandannaleg gets up from his seat, clutching his pants and says, "Bless yer heart, man. Thank you. Thanks for your driving, Mr. Metro Driver Man, Driver Dan, Metro Man."

It's no wonder I'm not getting any reading done any more on the bus.

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