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

Monday, June 11, 2007

Transitarian summer vacation

The first day of summer vacation and the driver of the 7:19 a.m. No. 82 bus is a shepherd without his flock.

Today I have a dentist appointment at 30th and P streets. I scheduled the appointment for 8:30 a.m. because there's a perfect RT scheduling match with the No. 82 and the No. 30.

The No. 82 stops and I am greeted with a cheerful good morning from the driver. I board the bus and find the interior strangely vacant. Missing is the crowd of Mira Loma High School students, normally so lost in the morning realm not their own and sullen with resignation that they are bound in servitude to the public school system that day.

Just two other riders are seated on the bus this morning. One woman reads The Bee and sips from a cup of coffee. Across from her a woman who sports a bright pink head wrap and oversized sunglasses stares out the bus window.

The driver waits until I walk the length of the bus to my customary seat in the rear. Only when I'm seated does he continue on his route. So maybe that lady driver was messing with me.

I'm finding the summer season very different on the bus as I settle into my new book.

"Your left side's open," I hear the driver tell a boarding passenger.

A man with a white cane boards. He makes his way carefully to the bench just inside the door.

"Your left side's open," I driver says again. A woman with a white cane cautiously makes her way to the bench and sits next to the man. The pair are quiet as they carefully fold their canes.

When the bus arrives at Sac State the man with the cane gets up and the driver asks him if he is aware that he'll have to stand on the traffic island to wait for his connecting bus. Yes, says the man as he exits.

I'm seated on a bench under a tree waiting for the No. 30. The man, a briefcase slung over his shoulder, stands on the island, rivers of traffic flowing by both sides of him. He is very still. He leans on his white cane.

Soon a bus arrives and stops in front of the man. "Thirty-four. Sixty-fifth light rail station," the bus announces.

The man waits. Not his bus.

A young woman disappears into the bus and a few moments later reappears. Not her bus.

I sit and scribble notes. Not my bus.

The bus leaves and is replaced by another.

"Eighty-seven Marconi," the bus announces. The man waits. The bus leaves. "Eighty-seven Sixty-fifth street light rail station," the next bus announces. Then the another 34 arrives. I look at my cell phone's clock. Soon, I think.

"There's our bus," the woman seated next to me on the bench says to her companion. And there is the DASH bus pulling to a stop.

The man with the cane boards and takes his seat on the bench just inside the door. I board with the other waiting passengers.

When the bus turns onto Alhambra I pull the stop-request cord and move to the side exit. At the front of the bus I see the man with the cane is reading a book with his fingers. The book is spread across his lap and he uses the fingers of both hands to see the words. The pages appear blank from my distance.

I wonder what he is reading as I leave the bus and start walking to my appointment. I arrive at 8:29 a.m., a transitarian bull's-eye in target scheduling.

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