We're on the 358, inbound from Aurora Village. Way out there. On long routes like this, you need to get along with people, because you might be with them for a solid hour. You know how long five minutes can be on the road. At 180th ("that's by the Thrift store; and the skating rink"), an older woman who looks to be in her sixties (59, it turns out) gets on and sits in the chat seat. Aside from her eyes, which are unfocused and one of which is wandering, everything about her seems normal. From the outside. We begin chatting- she initiates this time- and I'm thankful for the full five, possibly even ten minutes we have before she brings up my age. We then have the obligatory "you look young to be a driver" conversation ("How old are you?" "Seventeen." "Oh.").
She seems a gentle, but fearful soul, and today she's concerned about the impending conversion of the 358 into a RapidRide. I tell her in a calm voice that the RapidRide will follow nearly the exact same routing and make almost all the same stops as the current 358.
In a diminutive and frightened voice, she asks, "How will I know it's the RapidRide bus?"
"It'll say RapidRide on the front."
"But how I will I know it's going to Aurora Village?"
"It'll say Aurora Village on the front of the bus."
"But will it stop at Deseret Industries?"
"It will stop at Deseret Industries."
"Will it stop at Deseret Industries at 180th?" She sounds terrified.
"You know, it will stop there."
"At 180th? By Deseret Industries?"
"Uh-huh. Yeah, it's gonna stop at Deseret Industries at 180th."
"Cause that's where I get on."
"At Deseret Industries."
"Yeah, it's gonna stop right there for ya."
"Wait. At 180th, by Deseret Industries?"
I love this type of thing. There's my linguistic fascination with the number of ways a certain statement or idea can be expressed, the inherently repetitive nature of spoken conversation, but more significantly the opportunity- the rare opportunity- just to have a conversation like this. It's a terrific patience builder- to remain calm, and kind, and informative, for the duration. It also makes me smile inside.
She has another question-
"Bus driver, is the RapidRide gonna stop at, at, at,"
"At Deseret Industries at 180th?"
"It will stop at Deseret Industries at 180th." I attempt to inform her further- "you know, it'll be pretty much the exact same bus. The route will be the same, the frequency will be the same, the stops are almost the same- it's just that the bus will be red instead of blue."
This additional information is only mildly interesting to her. What she really wants to know is- well, you probably know by now-
"What about at 180th," she asks. "Will there be a stop there?"
Where else am I going to get to have a conversation like this? Honestly. Where else will she get to be reassured, so many times, on this particular issue? Today is her day to get this Deseret Industries question completely and utterly solved. I can see that she's genuinely terrified, as her large, wandering eye flips back and forth, and as she leans forward attentively to hear my answer each time, praying to hear an answer in the affirmative.
There is one other thing she wants to clear up-
"Is it gonna stop at Macy's?"
"Yes, the RapidRide will stop at Macy's."
"That's right. The RapidRide will stop at Macy's AND at Deseret Industries. Just like the 358."
"So it's not gonna stop at Macy's?"
"It will indeed. There'd be riots in the streets if they took away the Macy's stop."
"How will I know it's the RapidRide?"
"It'll be big and red and say RapidRide."
"But it won't stop at Macy's?"
"It's good that you ask. Actually, it will stop at Macy's."
"How about at 180th?"
This conversation continued in this vein from- no exaggeration- from 180th to 75th!! We spent more than a hundred blocks talking about how the RapidRide will stop at both Deseret Industries and at Macy's! I was in heaven. Inwardly, I was laughing endlessly- not at her, but with her- at the total absurdity of continuing a conversation like this, in respectful, gentle tones, for a full forty minutes. It's totally ridiculous, which makes it great. It was also a great exercise of patience, a terrific source of humor, and of course a chance to quell an old lady's intense, deep-seated fears about bus stops at Deseret Industries and Macy's. I can only wonder what all the passengers sitting around us were thinking. Maybe that we were both totally, certifiably insane in our own special ways. That sounds fine by me.