North End moments
My outbound 358 trip is starting to be packed. It was nearly empty the first week, but now everyone shows up to go home. One afternoon I have five (5!) lifts on one trip, three of them downtown! One after another. I'm lovin' it. There's a veritable battleground of walkers, wheelchairs and bags at the front. "Okay, this is gonna be like Tetris," I say, getting up to rearrange various articles to allow a wheelchair to exit. One passenger, a well-dressed female commuter,* is furious at me for arbitrary reasons unrelated to the lifts, and fumes silently at the front seat of the bus for half the ride (I had pulled forward to the head of the zone, as I'm supposed to; she didn't like this). I can only wonder what she's thinking as she listens to me remain in a perfectly good mood with everyone. Aside from her, everyone's thrilled to be here. Have you noticed that when you the driver are friendly, the people- strangers- sometimes start talking amongst themselves and introducing each other? As our angry commuter lady gets off I say, with sincerity, "I hope your day gets better."
She turns around with a look I wish I could decode. It's the look you make when someone you hate asks you out to dinner.
Or is it? It's obvious that she's surprised, but is she even more furious, or is she surprised in a mood-changing way? I'll never know if I washed away her anger in that moment or amplified it all the more.
Older Eastern European wife and husband, coming out the front- I love when people leave through the front- they don't speak English, but they do give me candy, by way of thanks (I think!).
"This is the positive bus." The older lady deboarding says this as if labeling an unidentified substance for the first time. She says so with authority, so I guess it must be true. I'm not gonna argue.
A teenage boy in a winter jacket stalks up to the front, with the sort of expression you might wear after witnessing a cheetah chase down a gazelle-
"Where do you get your energy, man?"
"I don't know!"
"It's amazing. You're freakin,' overflowing, dude."
"Thanks, man. Yeah, I have no idea what it is. I feel like if I found out what the secret was, I'd lose it, and the magic would be gone, you know?"
"Well hey, keep doin what you're doin."
"Thanks, man. I don't know what it is, I like the people, I like the route..."
"You're awesome. Thanks."
Another young man, slightly older and not living as easy of a life, offers a similar response but in different words. I'm humbled by the fact that he takes the time to come up at the end of the route to say something. He's excited by it all- there are so many millions of ways to drive the same route. He's excited by the approach, the attitude, the feeling of camaraderie inside here, a warm, dimly lit space where it's okay to be friendly-
"'Cuz its what we all want, you know?"
"Uh," I say, not entirely comprehending.
"We want the "cool bro" bus driver, man! And you are it!"
*I just got a complaint from that same lady, about this very ride. It turns out she stayed at the front so she could type her complaint while watching me drive, adding things she didn't like about my performance. Unfortunately for her I wasn't doing anything out of line, so the complaint reads more like an angry commendation- "the driver pulled to the head of the zone! He was courteous to too many of the passengers- even the non-paying ones! Tell him how to do his job!" Indeed. She had already sent it in by the time I'd wished her a better day, or she'd no doubt have mentioned that as well. I'm curious to hear what my chief makes of the fracas. It's a nice reminder that the point of all this is not to please everyone, that being impossible, but to simply do all I can, which is put myself out there, in the best way. I remember a driver (Ernie) once telling me, "I greet every single person. It doesn't matter if they say anything back. I've done my part." I would add that you're putting your energy out there, to the universe more than to any specific individual, and it will come back, if not by way of that person than in a larger sense.
10/18/2012 03:07:13 am
you are probably a breath of fresh air on that bus,,,,and some people should have directional signs as to what side of the bed to get out of.....
10/20/2012 12:07:44 pm
Carol, that's hilarious!! Thank you. It's interesting because 5 years ago I would've been devastated by some passenger who didn't like me, but this time she was just a momentary blip on just another regular great day.
10/25/2012 04:33:21 am
Have you seen the song on you tube about the 358?
10/26/2012 06:21:00 am
Sheila, that's so fantastic! How many routes have songs written about them?! Thanks for alerting me to that!
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