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

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hunting season has opened

California State University, Sacramento, is open for business again, and the guy who chases co-eds was overwhelmed. After being warned off the endangered summer prey, he was suddenly presented with the rewards of a new hunting season.

Earlier a young woman and a young man had boarded. She sat in a seat by herself; he sat across the aisle in a seat by himself. The guy tried to strike up a conversation. By necessity the conversation was loud enough for pieces to reach me in the first elevated row of seats in the rear of the bus. Mostly they discussed the start of the new school year at Sac State. This cross-aisle communication was as intimate as the co-ed wanted to get.

By the time the bus arrived at its Watt and Wal-Mart stop all of the seats had at least one rider. The guy who chases co-eds showed his pass as he boarded and then gazed over the field of prey. He walked past the seat next to the elderly gentleman and past a couple of full rows. Then at the row with the Sac State students on either side, he paused to look around. He sat down next to the co-ed.

If questioned, the guy who chases co-eds would defend his choice as reasonable. Nothing meant by it, he would say. The alternative, to sit next to the guy across the aisle, disappeared a moment later when a very large woman who really needed a seat for herself sat down. After some adjustment she rode the rest of the trip a half-cheek into the aisle.

The guy who chases co-eds appeared to be on his best behavior. Perhaps the hunting season's arrival caught him by surprise. Perhaps the warning he had received from the driver during the summer had a lingering effect. As far as I could tell, he was a perfect gentleman: silent. The co-ed, for her part, had flattened herself against the wall in an effort to maintain some space for herself. Across the aisle, the guy from Sac State was engaged in an animated conversation with the woman taking up three-quarters of their seat.

The No. 82 bus was standing room only today by the time it arrived at Howe Avenue. And then it was pretty much just standing. The traffic on Howe was caught in the backwash from the flood of Sac State students driving alone to school for the first day of fall classes. At least one bus rider used her cell phone to call and say she would be late.

The bus inched along Howe to Fair Oaks and then inched toward the J Street bridge. There were no accidents or construction delays. No, it was just hoards and hoards of single-occupant cars cheek by jowl crawling like a long segmented metal snake to the Sac State parking lots.

The No. 82 bus that leaves American River College at 8:09 a.m. is scheduled to arrive at Sac State at 8:45 a.m. Today, the bus arrived at 9:06 a.m.

Since a No. 30 bus downtown was waiting at Sac State I decided to take that to work rather than to rely on the No. 82 bus making its light rail connection.

A young woman carrying in-line roller skates boarded the No. 30 bus ahead of me.

"Does this bus go straight downtown?" she asked the driver.

"There are a few stops along the way," he replied. He paused a moment and then added, "But it does go downtown."

She paid her fare and took a seat. I tried to imagine what the young woman planned to do with in-line skates in downtown Sacramento. I was still considering the concept when I got off at 22nd Street and walked to work.

The fall season at Sac State is going to be fun.

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