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, January 29, 2008

Bus driver appreciation day

I don't know where I got the idea. Maybe it was part of the childhood folklore that insisted that you couldn't hit a moving target when playing Army. But somewhere I decided that if you walk in the rain you don't get as wet as you do when you just stand in one spot.

My new job responsibilities necessitate a slightly different schedule. It is easy enough to know when the bus will arrive; it's something of a challenge to figure out when you must start getting ready to finish on time. With half-hour interval service you don't want to miss the bus.

So today I was early. Five minutes to be exact. Looking at my watch in the rain, the hood of my jacket pulled tight to shield my naked cheeks (why did I cut off my beard?), I pondered my options. Stand in the rain? Walk to the next stop? Stand in the rain and get soaked? Walk a half-mile to the next stop and get less soaked?

I walked. I jammed my hands in my pants pockets and kept my head down as I splashed down the sidewalk.

About three-quarters of the way to the stop I heard the distinctive whine of the bus engine. I turned and looked up, and there it was coming up the street. There was no way I could make it to the stop before the bus.

I keep my bus pass in my pants pocket. I pulled out my pass only to discover I had pulled out my employee pass. I put that back and pulled out my Starbucks card.

Now I was getting a little frantic as the bus bore down on me.

Finally, I got it right and pulled out my bus pass and waived it in the air for the driver to see.

The driver, a woman, made an unscheduled stop and let me on.

As I boarded I thanked the driver. It was 9:41 and the bus was right on schedule for its 9:42 timing stop around the corner.

I think I'll just stand in the rain next time. The marginal benefits that might be imagined from moving in the rain, don't come close to outweighing the chance of being stranded between two stops.

When I got off the bus at 65th Street I made a point of going to the front of the bus and thanking the driver again.

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