Death

I noticed a beautiful green grasshopper in my bus today. It was crawling on my window. At the next stop I pulled over. As a girl got off I pointed to the grasshopper and smiled “do you want to take it with you?” She didn’t know what I was talking about because she had headphones in so I just waived her off but an old lady up front heard me and she said she had noticed our little hitchhiker friend.

There were two women waiting to get in so I told them to hang on. I got a headways and gently coaxed my new friend outside. It was really big and pretty. It hopped off the headways right in front of one of the ladies. I said “come on in, but watch your step” and I pointed to my little friend. She looked down and raised her foot to step on it!! I yelled “DONT!!” But it was too late. She stomped down on it. I guess my desperate cry startled her because she didn’t do the job and instead the poor thing was just hurt. I could see it dragging itself across the side walk. 

I felt so bad for it. 

My chest felt tight and I couldn’t even look at the lady. She apologized but it was too late. It didn’t matter. She’d already hurt it. 

The other lady got in and looked at me like I was crazy. I’m not crazy though. I just don’t like things to die unnecessary deaths. It was beautiful. 

But then came the hardest part. Before I pulled away from the curb I got out of my seat again and I killed it. I didn’t want it to suffer. I feel terrible. I was trying to help it live and instead I killed it. 

The lady apologized over and over and once more when she got out. She patted me on the arm and wished me a good day. I forced a smile because I know she felt bad but I’m really sad. 

Just tell me I’m not crazy for feeling so sad. 

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I swear I’m not immigration

A telephone pole fell down across a road that’s served by two bus lines. It’s down to one lane and only passable by smaller vehicles so my supervisor sends me down in a big white van, very much like the one your parents probably warned you about as a child, in an effort to help out. My job is to get people to and from the points that are still able to be served by the bus. Basically I’m a mini connection service. 

Totally legit plan, right?

Here’s the catch,

I’m unmistakably white and my Spanish is  limited to items one finds  on a takeout menu. The people  in the neighborhood that I am tasked to transport speak very little to no English and it’s my job to coax them into a big white van and persuade them that I can be trusted to take them where they need to go free of charge. 

So far today I’ve picked up two people that sort of kind of know enough English to understand that I wasn’t trying to kidnap them. The rest have had to decide between melting in the heat and getting into a strange van with a white lady speaking gibberish, posing in a probably stolen uniform. 

I had an Asian lady vehemently shake her and and yell “no!” after a man that was already inside my creeper mobile tried to explain to her in Spanish that it was okay to come with me. In hindsight I see how two different people attempting to encourae her in two different languages, neither of which she spoke, that it was a great idea to get inside a dusty van could possibly have given her pause. At the time though all I could manage was a hurt smile and a shrug and a barely audible, “Okay, I guess I’ll just go now.” As I watched her carry her heavy load of crap down the road in the direction I was going. 

In the beginning I tried my hand at a bit of awkward conversation. “Hola! Bueno’s dias…. so uh, what kind of food do you like? Do you ride the bus a lot?” Admittedly I didn’t get very far. So to ease the awkward silence i opted for a bit of  heavy brass music with some base and a repetive, but kind of catchy beat. My captives were clearly unimpressed so I went for the silence is golden thing. 

I gotta give one guy credit though. He tried super hard to chat me up by mixing small Spanish words and abbreviated English with things we could both understand like “bus no stop”. We nodded at each other a lot and pointed at things. It was the least uncomfortable trip of the day. Credit where credit is due, indeed. 

Only two more hours to go. Wish me luck!

PIECES

Joey’s on my bus again. It’s just the two of us this time because everyone else has had the good sense to get home early. For being spring it’s still really fucking cold out.

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, there are some things that you should know about Joey. He’s very sweet, in a child-like kind of way and he means well. He’s also really annoying at times and I’m pretty sure he’s schizophrenic. The former can sometimes make up for the latter.

Oh, and, for the record, I never give out my name or the town where I actually live because let’s be real, people are fucking crazy and I’m not about to lead Crazy to my Facebook page or invite Crazy over for a beer.

Joey makes his way to the front of the bus. “It’s just the two of us now, Beautiful!”

“Yep, it appears to be so.”

“Where do you live?”

I say, “Moss Landing.” It’s my stock response to the question and it’s close enough to the truth.

Joey gets excited. “It’s almost as pretty in Moss Landing as it is in Boulder Creek. Oh, I bet you have a nice house!”

“Yeah, it’s pretty nice, I guess.”

“And I bet you have all kinds of really nice things!”

“Um, yeah, I guess so. I have some cool stuff.”

“What about art!? Do you have any art? I have some PIECES at home.”

I can’t help but laugh at the way he exaggerated the word “pieces” like it’s some kind of special art world term that makes him sound extra knowledgable. “Yeah, I have some nice art. I have a few artist friends.”

“Do you want to come to my house?” He stage whispers to himself “(No, she doesn’t. She wants to go home.)”

“Ha, no thanks Joey, I need to go home.”

“Yeah, okay, I know. You probably want to go home to your really nice house with all your nice things.”

“Yep. Hey, your stop is coming up.”

“Oh yeah! Okay! My stop!” “(No, she’s not coming home with you. She has to go home to her house!)”

I pull off to the side of the road and watch him as he gathers up his bags. He looks like he could be someone’s uncle or brother. Dude just got dealt a shitty hand. I resolve to be a little bit nicer to him from now on, or at least try to be. He tries my patience, but let’s be honest, most people do.

He looks up and tries to catch my eye. He smiles and waves at me with his little boy smile, “Goodbye beautiful driver!” Then he blows me something like 4 kisses in quick succession.

I can see out of the corner of my eye that he’s waiting for me to turn and make eye contact with him but I don’t. Resolving to be nicer doesn’t mean being stupid. If I make eye contact I’ll spend the next 5 minutes trying to get him to shut up and leave. I smile at the steering wheel and  busy myself with the defroster. I give him a little wave, “Goodnight Joey, I’ll see you soon.”

He blows me two more quick kisses before jumping out of the bus and scurrying up the hill toward his house and his PIECES.

 

Joey and the Irish Peach

It’s 11:04pm, I’m driving the last 35 to boulder creek and I’m stopped at the light on Front street at Soquel. It’s late and I’m tired and all I want to do is go home. I can see someone frantically waiving at me from the bus stop in front of CVS. Fuck. I can’t tell who it is but I know it’s probably not going to be good and I’m already over it. The light turns green and the waiving gets more frantic. It’s a guy and he’s running back and forth between the curb and a shopping cart. Back and forth, back and forth, three times in quick succession as I slow for the stop.

::sigh:: It’s Joey.

Imagine Mister Magoo as a drunk schizophrenic that likes drugs except without the glasses and you’ve got Joey. He’s bent over the shopping cart, digging through a pile of recycle. “The bus is here! The bus is here!”

“Hurry up Joey! I wanna go home.”

“The bus is here! The bus is here! Come on man, the bus is here!”

He’s yelling at the bundled up lump of a man sitting on the bench that obviously has zero interest in Joey or the bus.

“Joey!”

“Yeah, okay m’am I’m coming!” Joey runs over and taps the lump on the shin with is foot. “The bus is here!”

The lump yells, “Fuck off you fucking asshole!”

“He doesn’t want the bus Joey, lets go!”

“He said he wants the 71!”

“Joey, this is the 35.”

“Yes m’am, I’m coming!” He jumps onto the bus with an armload of stuff and a big black trash back that’s nearly empty. He runs to the back of the bus.

“You gotta put money in the box, bro!”

“I ain’t got 3 arms!”

::sigh::

Joey comes running back down the aisle. “I just need to get one more thing!”

“No more things!!”

“Yes m’am, but can I at least get my jacket?”

::sigh: “Go on, get your jacket.”

“Yes m’am, thank you m’am” He bends over the shopping cart to rifle through it some more. “I can’t just leave all of this recycle here…”

“You can and you will or I will leave you! Ain’t nobody got time for you and your recycle right now.”

A voice from the back of the bus yells “I gotta go to work!”

A second voice chimes in “Hurry up!”

Joey jumps back onto the bus with his jacket in the crook of his arm, three empty water bottles in one hand and a laundry detergent container in the other. He stands at the fare box trying to stick his hands in his pocket to get at his money. “I have it right here!”

::sigh:: “Have a seat Joey, you’ve earned it.”

“Thank you beautiful!” He walks down the aisle to the back of the bus. “She’s beautiful isn’t she! She’s a beautiful Irish peach!”

What the fuck is an Irish peach? It doesn’t matter. I settle into tonights soundtrack for the last 35. It’s the sound of joey’s recycling bag skidding back and forth across the floor with every turn, occasionally punctuated by shouts of “Goodbye! See you later!” as people exit and “She’s a lovely peach”, periodically, for seemingly no reason other than to remind himself of my Irish peachy goodness.

 

Dumbass in the herd

There are plenty of reasons that I hate driving around the university. If you care to count the reasons you can start by counting the students and when you’re done with that you’ll be pretty on par with the sum of my problems.

Dumbass: Hello driver!

Me: Hi.

Dumbass: Wow, this is a really nice bus!

Me: Mmhmm.

Dumbass: I’ve never seen a bus this nice here on campus before!

Me: Uh, yeah, it’s one of the newer one’s in the fleet.

Dumbass: Why don’t we get it up here more often?

Me: ::sigh:: It’s shorter than the ones we usually put on campus to shuttle you and your peers around. There are so many of you that the shorter busses don’t make sense up here.

Dumbass: Why are you driving it today?

Me: ::sigh:: I am only forced to drive around campus twice. The majority of my work is elsewhere so I get to drive a shorter bus.

Dumbass: Hahahahaha!! You drive a short bus!!!

Me: Yes, I drive it but you’re the one riding it.

Dumbass: …oh, yeah…

His friends erupt into laughter and I don’t even try to hide my smug smile. Then I silently wish myself a happy 4/20 and continue on because he’s just another dumbass in the heard and it’s going to be a long night.

Kids

Oh the 35…
I had a group of kids that were being obnoxious so I yelled back to them “Hey! Could you guys be a little less annoying!?”

The girl says “Just a little?”

I say “I’m a bus driver. I have a very high tolerance to these things but you…”

One of the boys says “yes m’am. I’m very sorry m’am.” And then he turns to his friends and says “Come on guys, calm down.”

Hahaha! Yes! Only on the 35 can you be straightforward and get a good result.
BUT THEN!

As the kids get off they come up and apologize for being disrespectful and annoying! 😆