Everyday of the Car Free Challenge, TransForm sends out an email featuring a contest that urges challenge participants to write a blog post about something particular for a chance to win a prize. Today’s contest involved sharing sweet transportation stories with the prize being chocolate (of course). Though I haven’t shared one of those here recently, I was reminded of some blog posts I’d previously written about sweet bus stories, so I thought I’d share them again.
One of the things I love about riding the bus is the sense of community. I know many of the bus drivers on my line by now, and at night, when there are few riders on the bus and I’ve had a couple drinks at Radio, I usually chat with the driver for a while. This sense of community sometimes goes beyond the drivers, like today…
As I was riding a fairly empty 1R bus, a young woman with large, dark sunglasses to match her dark, long hair tied back in a ponytail, boarded the bus. As she walked towards the back of the bus, an older woman with a wide brimmed hat and a floral print purse stopped this young woman. The young woman stopped in the aisle, but the older woman asked her to sit down, which she did, across from her. This apparently wasn’t close enough for the woman – who seemed a bit hard of hearing – so she asked the younger woman to sit next to her. She sat down, and pushed her sunglasses back on her head, revealing dark brown, comforting eyes.
I was a few seats back, but I’m a bit nosy sometimes, and I could tell the two didn’t know each other. I’m not sure exactly what they were talking about, but it seemed as if the older woman was asking the younger woman for advice on navigating the legal system. “District Attorney’s office… they could probably find you help… the East Bay Law Center on Shattuck…”
Ultimately, I didn’t care that much about exactly what they were talking about. But it made me smile to see one stranger helping another.
Today was a rough day for me. I woke up at 6am to go to Sacramento, did a bunch of running around the Capitol, sat through a long hearing, rode back to Oakland, and participated in a three hour strategy meeting while intermittently taking phone calls about a bill that’s being heard in Sac tomorrow. I practically ran out of my office to the bus, where I waited in the chilling cold wind, imagining the large, cold glass of Pinot Grigio that awaited me at home.
Needless to say, I was a bit grumpy and exhausted by the time I got on the bus, but by the time I disembarked, I had a huge smile on my face.
At 40th street, a man boarded the bus, and I could tell he was negotiating with the bus driver. Then, a woman with a child ran to the bus and made it on, and I realized he had been asking the driver to wait for this stranger. The woman proceeded to negotiate with the bus driver to wait for her friends and children, as they made their way quickly to the bus and piled on. All this time, the bus driver and several riders cracked jokes and enjoyed the high energy of the children. Keep in mind that this is the same bus driver that for the previous portion of the trip had been driving as if he was driving an ambulance, speeding through yellow lights, and stopping several feet away from the curb so he could quickly pull away.
Before I got off the bus, I had a moment to chat with the driver. We commiserated about our long days and how we’d have to do it all over again in the morning, and I found out that this was to be his last trip of the day, before he made it home to his family.
To recap, the bus driver, so eager to get home after a long day, delayed his own gratification to wait for a few mothers and their young children, and he did so with a considerable amount of cheeriness.
This is what I call bus therapy, and for $1.25 a session, it’s one of the best deals in Oakland.
Yesterday evening, riding the 1 on my way home from work, I heard a girl, probably about 6 or 7 years old, ask her mom, “What if the bus doesn’t stop?”
Her mom turned to her, smiling, and said, “Don’t worry, it will.”
I smiled to myself, thinking about what a sweet question it was and trying to remember back to the time when parents transported me around and transportation seemed a bit mystical and magical. I’d get in the car, sit back, and then all of a sudden arrive where we were going. Or in this girl’s case, she hops on the bus, sits back, and suddenly arrives, with the bus driver magically knowing where to stop.
A bit later, the mother pulled the cord and then she, the daughter, and the girl’s father all started walking towards the front door before the bus pulled up to their stop. They left the bus quickly, and the mom thanked the bus driver as she was leaving. The little girl then thanked the bus driver too.
That reminded me that it’s never too early to learn (or teach) bus etiquette.