There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, March 16, 2007

T.G.I.F.: Odds and ends

The joys of cell phone alarm clocks.

Many years ago I would say I was going to return to using public transit to get to work, but the idea would die after a day or two. The most common reason was that I would keep missing the bus. While I never lived quite as close to the stop as I do today, what has really made life easier is the invention of the cell phone alarm clock.

My bus leaves American River College at 8:34 a.m. That's when I should be gathering up my stuff and walking out the door. The bus arrives right round 8:39.

In years past, I would see I had 10 minutes before I had to leave, and I would go putter around the house. Invariably it would be the sound of the bus going by that would alert me to the fact that 15 minutes had just sped by in the space of a normal 10 minute wait. Since there was no way to rewind time and catch the bus, I would get into my car and drive to work. A couple of times like that and the enthusiasm for relying on the bus wanes.

Today, through the magic of cell phone technology, I'm never late. (Hollow sound produced my knocking on my noggin.) I set the alarm for 8:34 a.m. and putter about to my heart's content. When the beep-beep-beep of the alarm goes off, I drop everything, pick up everything and proceed to the stop. I generally have a three-minute wait before I board the bus.

A crowd at the bus stop

Today wins the prize for most passengers waiting for the bus. Three of us. There was the young man who works at Emigh Harware. He brings his bike. Then there was a new guy with his left arm in a sling. Waiting for the bus I mused that global warming sure makes for a fine spring day.

Here's your get off reminder

I've been known to fret about forgetting to get off the bus. This isn't a problem going to work, but I've missed my stop once already on the return leg of my commute.

Today, a woman boarded the bus and talked with the driver about whether the bus went where she wanted to go. I didn't catch any of the specifics.The lady sat down in the bench across from the driver and the bus proceeded on its route. I was deep into my book and soon forgot about the lady.

Later, I happened to look up as the bus pulled to a stop at Howe and Fair Oaks. No one had pulled the stop request, and no one was waiting to get on. I looked on the sidewalk to see if someone was waiving for the bus. No one. The driver made the bus kneel and opened the door. Nobody got up, and nobody got on. The puzzle was solved a moment later when the driver alerted the lady this was her stop. Another courtesy from the courteous driver.

To dash or to dally? That is the question

I have explained in several posts that the bus is supposed to arrive about 10 minutes before the downtown train. This is designed to produce a calm transition from the rubber wheel to the steel wheel. But, alas, my bus keeps arriving just as the earlier train is pulling into the station.

As the bus winds its way through the parking lot to is designated spot, the train doors open, departing passengers descend the stairs and the waiting passengers board.

As the bus finally comes to a stop and the doors open, I find myself teased by the train: "Come on! Run! You can make it."

It is maybe 30 yards to the train. I could run across the street that separates the buses from the train station. Or I can casually saunter over to the station and ignore the train, and pretend its siren song has no effect on me.

Today, is a fine spring day, and I am near the end of my book. I sit on a bench, get out my coffee and drink and read for the 15 minutes until the next train arrives.

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