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, June 8, 2007

A sleepy summer bus ride

It was not officially summer. And the last day of school still needed to be played out today. But this morning just wasn't interested in facts. The air was cool but the sun seemed oddly bright and summery in its glare. This felt like the first day of summer.

The No. 82 bus that picked me up on its way to the light rail station at 65th Street was one of the older ones with the benches that line the rear. I find the regular seats on these buses too close together for my liking, and I've found there's too much side-to-side motion when seated on either of the rear side benches. As a result, I ride these buses sitting in the corner on the back bench.

On this lazy day, a woman lies sleeping in the last forward-facing seat before the bench, using her backpack for a pillow. She's a semi-regular rider. She'll wake up about the time the bus reaches the Watt and Wal-Mart stop, shake off the sleepy cobwebs and get off at the Butano and Sam's Club stop. She is a poster child for a stress-free commute.

On the other side of the bus, a skateboarder is asleep, sprawled on the side bench, his head resting on his backpack. When the bus stops, I can hear the music from his headphones. His legs are draped over an old-school skateboard from the 1980s. It's a Santa Cruz Pro Series model, according to the sticker. The wheels are unusually wide by modern street standards and the hardware holding the trucks to the deck looks like hand-me-downs. The bolts extend out of the nuts like poser flag poles. All of this imagery is influenced by what I think my son might say. I've spent years, literally, listening to my kid talk about skateboarding. Someday he'll be a famous skater, and I will say I used to change his diapers. He'll hate that.

We pick up a few riders and let an equal number leave.

At the Watt and Wal-Mart stop the guy who chases coeds boards the bus. He sits down just inside the door. He appears anxious or disappointed, maybe both. Summer is not his season. The Sac State standing-room-only crowds of co-eds have shriveled to a hodge podge of riders who lack the dietary requirements to fuel the guy's efforts. At Howe and Northrup, he leaves the bus and walks to work. Maybe summer school will bring fresh meat.

I enjoy the lazy nature of the summer commute. There is more to see when there is less distraction.

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