"Hey, everybody. I'm the backup bus!"
"No, you're the first choice!"
"Glad you chose me!"
They seem like the transit-savvy type; the second coach is usually emptier and more mellow. Many passengers don't look to see if there's a following bus, and thus miss out on a more relaxed ride. Other times people will choose my bus simply because I'm driving it. Perhaps they remember me, or maybe it's a circumstance where I'm the less angry of the two options!
One afternoon while I was pulling away from the same zone at Pike, I noticed a wheelchair roll up at the last minute- after the last minute, really, as I was already in motion, well clear of the zone, and she wasn't quite at the zone yet. It wasn't meant to be. I recognized the woman and know she saw me; unbrushed salt and pepper hair, with crisp blue eyes and an expressive face.
In my periphery I registered her disappointment and continued on, thinking, such is life. The 70 runs every ten minutes in the PM peak.
That was at 4:45.
Imagine my surprise when, over two hours later, I pulled into Third and Pike again, after completing an entire loop on the route, and beheld her sitting in the very same spot.
The time was 6:52, and she was beaming. I couldn't believe it.
"Weren't you here two hours ago? Don't tell me you been waitin' here the entire time!"
"Hey man, none of 'em was the right driver!"
"Nooooo way! No way! You waited for me?!"
"Of course I waited for you! You're my buddy!"
"You know there's all kinds of 70s goin' through this time a day..."
"Oh, I know, I saw 'em! But like I said, none of 'em was the right one. I kept tellin' 'em, nope, not the right driver!"
"Aw, they're good guys."
"Yeah, I know. But I wanted to see you!"
"Mary, I am honored. What can I say! I'm honored beyond belief! Two hours! Okay, now you know there's no way I can possibly make this ride worth your time!"
"I got no singing voice, there's no live entertainment...."
I was just glad my piece of work was such that I even drove through there for a second round. She had learned from other drivers it took about two hours for me to circle back around, and opted to wait. In the past we had talked about her hip replacement and associated rehabilitation. She was now well on her way to recovery. I was thrilled to hear it. To be able to turn your back on a wheelchair...part of her therapy involved long, slow walks around town, with the help of her cane. We talked about where she liked to go. It would prove successful; less than two months later I would see her on foot, walking around as if wheelchairs had never so much as crossed her mind.