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

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Social skills of a transitarian

A neighbor was waiting at the bus stop when I arrived this morning. She's new to the area.

"Do you know when the next bus arrives," she asked.

"About five minutes," I said.

"Great timing then," she replied.

Ever the overly helpful, overexplaining transitarian, I offered an impromptu summary of the bus service at our stop: "It's every half-hour except after the fourth bus, there's an extra 15 minute delay. So sometimes there's 45 minutes between buses."

"That's good to know," she said.

I then told her how she could purchase a book of all of Sacramento Regional Transit's bus routes for just $1 at RT's customer service office near the 13th Street light rail station. I even pulled out my copy of the book from my backpack to show her.

She was kind enough not to laugh at me.

When the No. 82 bus arrived, the driver and the woman greeted each other by first name.

"How are you today," the driver asked.

"Oh, I'm on my way to get some dental work done," she said as she fed dollar bills into the fare box. "I'll be better after that."

I waved my pass at the driver and made my way to the back of the bus. My neighbor took a seat just inside the door and for the next several minutes she and the driver had an animated conversation.

When the bus arrived at 65th Street, the driver alerted my neighbor that her No. 34 bus was just arriving and she would need to hurry a little to catch it. As I walked over to the No. 38, I saw my neighbor heading for the No. 34. She made it in plenty of time.

I've worked around politicians off and on over the years. I've always been amazed at how a natural politician can meet and greet people, remembering names and conversational tidbits that make the connection personal. It's a talent I just don't have.

"Don't be so grumpy," the wife tells me.

"Harrumph," I harrumph.

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