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, July 2, 2007

Bus driver appreciation day

A certain rhythm marks the progress of the morning bus -- stop, drop off riders, pick up riders, start. The bus rolls along and I read, always conscious of the rhythm within the symphony of transit noises.

And then the bus paused. It was as if a person loudly snoring in the next room suddenly stopped. It was vaguely alarming.

I looked up. The bus had stopped at Morse and Hurley to let a regular rider off. But no one was waiting to get on. The bus engine idled with the front door open. Often when a bus gets ahead of schedule, the driver will wait. But that only happens at a run's timing points, and this was not a timing point.

And then I saw her in the distance. She was in the middle of Hurley running. A short, middle-aged woman dressed in a white top and tan slacks, the highlights in her short light-brown hair flashing in the breeze created as she dashed toward the bus. When she reached the sidewalk she slowed to a walk for a few steps as she retrieved her wallet from her purse, and then she returned to her jogging pace. She was undoubtedly happy to be wearing sneakers.

The woman arrived in the bus with her purse and a banana in one hand and a bus pass and a wallet in the other. She and the driver exchanged greetings as she took her seat.

As a child, I often heard it said that it doesn't matter what you do for a living as long as you do it with pride. I was taught that taking pride in your work brings enjoyment and satisfaction.

This morning when I boarded the No. 82 bus that leaves American River College at 7:19 a.m., I noticed the girl with the collapsible scooter in the front of the bus. She was rummaging in her teddy bear backpack as I took a seat in the back of the bus. Two stops after I boarded, the bus stopped. The doors opened.

"Your stop," the driver said to the girl.

The girl threw her teddy bear over her shoulder, grabbed her scooter and hurried off the bus.

It is very enjoyable to watch someone work who clearly enjoys what he is doing. Not every driver can do it, as evidenced last week with two riders left behind on one run.

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