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, March 4, 2008

The bus -- a musical

The sound of music floated in the air of the No. 82 bus. Like a smell, it was hard to pick out exactly where it was coming from. Mostly, the sound seemed to be coming from in front of me. I was tempted to look at the bottom of my shoe.

This was odd. Normally, I can pinpoint the source of music on the bus. Worst of all are the jerks with the cellphone MP3 players. The tiny tinny speakers butcher the music. Forced to listen is like being twice abused -- first the aural intrusion and then the crappy quality.

Anyway, I tried to read my book but the music wouldn't go away. I have a handicap that severely limits my ability to read when I hear music with lyrics. Instrumental music is fine. At work I listen to classical. At home I play jazz. But words when I'm reading intrude.

Seated immediately in front of me was a guy with headphones on, his head resting on the seatback in front of him. Across from me was a guy with earbuds stuffed in his ears who was texting on his phone. I could pick out at least three other riders who were listening to their personal music. But the sound I was hearing clearly wasn't coming from headphones.

As the bus made its way along its long, winding route from the 65th Street station toward American River College, people kept leaving but the music remained. And eventually it dawned on me that the reason the driver wasn't yelling to have the music turned off was because the driver was playing the music.

As the bus emptied, the music seemed to grow louder. It certainly intruded more. Before I left the bus, two people moved from the front of the bus to the back. If they were trying to get away from the music they were disappointed.

When I left the bus, the driver said, "Thank you for riding Regional Transit."

I couldn't think of a snappy comeback so I just left.

I hope music isn't going to be a regular feature of riding Sacramento Regional Transit.

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