Wednesday, March 26, 2014

taking the bus

We had an awkward errand the other day. We had to take a 90 lb. bundle, a rolled-up inflatable dinghy, 15 miles to a repair facility. We have no car. We usually take the bus or walk wherever we have to go. Normally, we don't have a 90 lb. bundle with us. How were we going to accomplish this? First choice was the city bus, $2.25/person.

We have the transit app on our smart phones and using this, we determined that we had to walk about 4 blocks, catch the #22 bus and stay on that for about 1.5 hours as it trudged up 22nd Ave to an industrial area that housed the repair facility. We had a one block walk from the bus stop there to the facility. Perfect!

So, we loaded the huge mass (about the size of a short, fat person) onto our foldable cart and walked the 4 blocks to our stop. Along the way, we discussed our options if the driver refused to allow us to board with this HUGE parcel. We could call a cab, walk over to the rental car agency, call friends who have cars... none of these options are great, but all have possibilities.

Miraculously, the driver did not bat an eyelash as she slowed to pick us up. We heaved it aboard and sat with it taking up half the aisle. No one cared. Then came the fun part. And I do mean fun. It was going to be a long ride and I love people watching. 

People got on the bus without the right change. No problem. They just asked around and other people came up with the change. It was as if it was expected that you carried change for other riders. I had my entire laundry coin purse full of quarters, so was able to help out sometimes. 

People got on the bus with little children. No problem. Other people made room for them, picked them up and plopped them on the seats when Mama's arms were full, made sure they were safe.

People got on the bus in wheel chairs. No problem. The driver hopped up, smiled, deployed the ramp and configured the front seats to accommodate the chair, strapped it in and on we went. When the seated person needed to get off, they pushed a special button alerting the driver that the wheelchair lift was being requested. People were patient and kind.

People got on the bus who needed assistance. No problem. A women with difficulty walking got on, and a young man hopped up, gave her his seat and put her fare in the machine for her. She tried to tip him and he refused to take it. He was happy to help out.

People were friendly. Conversations blossomed in Spanish and English the whole trip uptown. People met friends and hugged each other. At one point a woman was so excited about meeting her friend on the bus, she called a mutual friend and both women shouted into the phone how happy they were to have met up on the bus.

Counting both ways, we were on the bus for a little less than three hours. It was a slice of community that you can't see any other way. Wouldn't have traded it for a boring car trip any day.