Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

# 4, northbound, after work

My new normal 4:16 bus. It was pretty crowded when I got on, but I was able to get an aisle seat near the front. The man in the window seat had Wide Leg Syndrome and was sitting at an angle and didn't make much of an attempt to scoot over or close his legs. I was squeezed against the edge of the seat trying not to block the aisle. You're only entitled to one seat, and on the bus, not even that sometimes.

There was a loud group of young men in the back of the bus, late teens. Two of them were talking loudly, one louder than the other, but I think there were more than 2 of them just because it seemed like they were performing for other people, and I don't think the other people were the rest of the bus passengers. It's the kind of conversation teenage boys might have with a group of friends but not the kind that should be shared loudly on a public bus. Like many conversations in Kentucky, it started with basketball and a debate over the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville teams and then continued from there.

Basketball is my church!


You lie! How can someone who goes to church [real church, not basketball?] lie so much. You're a fuckin' liar!  You go to St. Stephen's every Sunday morning and then you fuckin' lie to my face?!

Something about someone's mother.

Homophobic slurs.

More uses of fuck and its other forms as an adjective.

Something about bitches.

The man next to me made a comment to me, but I was annoyed by his Seat Hogging and didn't want to bond with him over the loud teens in the back so I pretended not to hear him. I sat squeezed in my seat with my bag in my lap, sweating with my winter hat and gloves still on because I had no space to remove them.

The bus driver, like the Wizard of Oz, spoke through the microphone up front: You need to stop the profanity back there. But like the wizard, her proclamations proved ineffective. This happened twice, but it didn't stop the profanity and didn't even lead them to lower their voices. I'm sure there is a rule about it somewhere, but it's not one of the listed "No eating / No drinking / No guns / No loud music" rules. I wondered if the driver had the authority to kick someone off the bus.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

# 4 northbound, after work

I caught the 4:40 bus from campus. Fewer passengers than the bus I usually take. I could see the driver's profile in the rearview window and she was talking. But no passengers were standing up near her. I was trying to decide if she was talking to herself or talking into a cell phone earpiece and which option would be preferable, when I saw her take the earpiece out and hold it for a minute while speaking into it.

She finished her shift at my stop (Broadway) and was on the sidewalk behind me, waiting to to cross, still talking and laughing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 7, 2010

# 4, southbound, Louisville Industrial Center

I slept in this morning so caught the 7:51 instead of my normal 7:39 bus. A young man and woman sat down behind me at 4th & Broadway. Much of their ride involved talking to "Troy" on a cell phone about meeting at the U of L Library (If you're on TARC already, just ask for directions.) and about the weather. We just got on the bus. Troy, it's cold out... Where are you at? It's cold, Troy. He possibly was on the bus behind us (our bus may have been running a few minutes late), so they got off at Hill to catch the next bus and reunite with Troy. In the cold.

And it was cold outside. 16 degrees and lower with the windchill. A man got on the bus wearing a fitted leopard-print fur coat.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

# 23 westbound
# 4 southbound, mid-morning


I waited for about 5 minutes on Broadway for the #23 after walking south from my doctor's appointment. A man already at the shelter and smoking a cigarette offered me a wall calendar. I missed what the specific theme was. He then asked if I was waiting for the 23 or the 43, and since I was standing by the posted schedule, asked what time the 43 came. 10:36. I said. So about 15 more minutes.

A few minutes later he asked me what time it was. As I pulled my phone out of my coat pocket, he said something about the weather, perhaps because my gloves were also in my pockets (with the sun and walk, it was warm enough to be bare-handed). They said we're supposed to get 3 inches, he said. I only like snow on Christmas. As my bus arrived, he told me to have a Merry Christmas. You too, I said.

At the stop for the #4 a man was listening to music on his cell phone without headphones. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the louder someone else's music is the least likely you are to actually enjoy it. I went ahead and put in my earbuds and turned on my iPod. On the bus, as the driver pulled away from the stop, an older man stood between the lane and the parking lane waving a transfer ticket in his hand. Oh no, the driver said, I am not stopping for you as she waved her arm in the universal sign of "get away from me." I sense a TARC history between those two.

The man with the cellphone, who did turn his music off once on the bus, got off one stop later, a very short block away and headed north on 4th Street. I don't understand people sometimes. Perhaps he was the one who left the manila folder on the bench at Broadway.

#4, northbound, after work

An adult woman and an older man were sitting in front of me -- possibly father and daughter. The woman had a litany of complaints about a recent dining experience -- overcharged, etc., and said she didn't leave a tip. We were just passing the public library when she said something about a man using the university library and not the public library because they have a children's section at the public library and he can't go there. Oh.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tueday, December 2, 2010

# 4 - southbound, Iroquois Park

Today's lesson is patience. I left the house in the morning before R. was ready because it was a few minutes past the time we needed to leave for me to catch the 7:39 bus. I got to the stop at 7:37 with no sign of the bus approaching, so I walked a block to the next stop. At 7:45 the bus arrived -- I could have walked two more stops, but the worst thing is to be halfway between two stops when the bus finally shows up. I saw R. walking down the street at the corner of stop #1 as the bus approached me at stop #2. How do you plan your day on the assumption that the bus will be 6 minutes late?

At 4th & Breckinridge, a woman got on the bus and asked the driver if our bus went to a certain location. I think she was trying to get to Oxmoor since the driver said to take the #19 or the #29. Neither of which intersect with the #4 at Breckinridge. She'd have to go north on 4 to catch the 19 or south to catch the 29. The 4 is north-south and the 19 and 29 are east-west. This discussion lasted 2.5 cycles of the traffic light. While we were already running late. And the woman ended up not riding our bus. I got to the office about 10 minutes later than usual and 50 minutes after I left the house. To travel 3 miles.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

#4 , southbound - Iroquois Park

No bus riding during the holiday. Monday morning was the first time in basically a week. An older man with a cane got on at 4th & Ormsby. He had the ultimate bed hair. It was like a member of the Flock of Seagulls if a F.O.S. band member were living in an assisted living home in Louisville.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

#4 southbound, Iroquois Park, in the morning

There was a man on the bus with a Christmas tree -- one of those boxes you buy an artificial tree in. It was a 7.5 foot Douglas fir and the box took up the two sideways seats behind the driver and part of the first seat facing front, plus the space in between. There was a big yellow image on the box indicating it takes two people to carry it. How in the world did the man get the tree on the bus? And where was he coming from at 7:15 in the morning with an artificial Christmas tree?

Friday, November 19, 2010

#4 - northbound, after work

The bus hesitated at 4th & York, even though we had a green light, no one had pulled the cord, and no one was waiting at the stop. The crosswalk was flashing orange. The bus pulled through the light and then stopped on the other side, within sight of the next stop -- my stop -- at 4th & Broadway. The driver had been talking to a passenger and told him the buses weren't allowed to be more than three minutes early to a stop. I can't get there four minutes early - only three. So we waited for a minute before she pulled up to the stop.

Apparently, the rule is the bus can't be more than 3 minutes early but can be 30 minutes late?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We had a meeting this afternoon scheduled from 3-4:30. Fortunately, it ended by 3:40. I had brought my bag and coat with me so headed out to the bus stop. I was a block away when I saw the # 4 drive through the intersection.

I walked a few blocks north on 4th Street since I had about 10 minutes to kill and waited at the Lee Street stop -- there's a bench and decorative planters with blossoming flowers in them. I remembered the last time I waited at that stop. There was a man with a bicycle sitting on the steps of the house right behind the stop. He started to tell me some story involving the convenience store down the street. He lost my sympathy when he got to the "them bitches" part. Supposedly, he had asked for directions from some women in a car and they called the police. Or something. I saw that man about 3 more times in a short period of time, including once downtown, and then haven't seen him again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

#4 - southbound

I was 1/2 block away from the bus stop when I realized I had forgotten my phone at home. And I was expecting a call later that day. I walked home the 2 blocks, took the elevator up, walked down the hall, grabbed the phone, walked down the hall, took the elevator down, and walked back towards the bus stop.

A young woman in a head scarf got out of the back seat of a car parked on the side of the road and asked me for help. I took my headphones off as she held up a cell phone and asked if I knew where this place was -- the phone had the Kentucky Convention Center and its address on the screen. We were on Jefferson just past 6th Street. The Convention Center is on 4th Street. Unfortunately, Jefferson is one-way going west. I told her they needed to go around the block and drive up (or down) 4th Street (depending on which way they turned) and it would be at the corner, but I couldn't remember what the cross street was. Turns out, I think it's at 4th & Jefferson. She thanked me and I started to walk on. Then she called me back and gave me a piece of candy. Thanks!

# 4 - northbound

It was chilly, windy, and rainy. The bus was stopped at the light at 4th & Magnolia when a man on a bicycle approached from the west. I thought at first he was just crossing in front of us, but he was trying to board the bus. At the light, which is not a bus stop. For some reason it was moved up half a block, which always confuses people. The driver honked a few times, but, really, what do you do when a man stops in front of your bus? We sat through the light at least twice while he carried on a Queen Anne's Cordial Cherry box that was collapsing from the weight of the black trash bag inside or because of the water (the larger packing box that would hold the individual boxes for sale). He put the box on the shelf behind the driver's seat, and then he got off to hook the bike to the rack in front. The bicycle had curved handlebars.

I got off at 4th & Broadway and walked to the Y wondering why I hadn't just stayed on the bus where it was dry and slightly warm. At 3rd & Chestnut, the 60-cent woman asked me for money. She had a plastic scarf on her head and was pushing her bicycle.

After the Y, I met R. outside his office and we walked home. My jeans were wet from earlier so I kept my gym-capris on. It was about 40 degrees, windy, and a little rainy. 4th Street Live was blocked off and checking IDs, which I try to avoid on principle (seriously, it's 6:30 at night and I'm just trying to walk home), so we went around. A man stopped us on the sidewalk on Muhammad Ali just past 4th Street. He was holding car keys. Excuse me... Can I ask you something... Now I'm not one of those bums...

I interrupted, seeing where this going.* I'm sorry, but it's cold, and I want to go home. We continued walking. You have to get to your Ask faster, especially when the weather is bad. I just finished an hour of Pi-Yo and my legs are bare. Speed it up. A few blocks later at 6th Street just south of Jefferson, I saw the same man in front of us as we cut through Jefferson Park. He walked over to the courthouse. This morning I felt a little guilty for not listening to him because maybe he really did have car trouble, but I seriously doubt it.


* The other week, we sat outside our building for a little bit after cleaning out the trunk of the car. R. had a blue tarp and I held a red dirt devil hand vacuum. A man approached us with a similar opening as the man from last night. He had a story about his car breaking down and Glassworks wanting him to get it out of their lot and he had used the last of his money to repair the leaking fuel tank and now needed gas money to get back to Lexington. R. directed him to the travelers assistance center a few blocks away, which will give you cash for just this type of situation. The man said he'd head back to the convention center and see if he could call someone. A few minutes later, we saw him stop a man on the other side of the light, the opposite direction of the convention center.

As an aside, there is not an official Glassworks parking lot -- there are a few lots around the building but they are run by companies contracted with the city. All they will do if your car is there is give you a ticket for not pre-paying for your space. Maybe, eventually, they'd tow you, but you probably have to get a few tickets first, and his car had only been there overnight. Also, there are no gates at the lots, so you could just drive off and not pay the tickets if you happened to be here from out-of-town and weren't concerned about getting caught later.

Monday, November 15, 2010

#4 - northbound, noon

I left work at noon because I had an appointment at 1 p.m. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 12:09 -- it was more like 12:12. On the bus was the woman with three young kids I used to see on my other bus when I lived in a different neighborhood. At that time, she had a boy and girl. Today she had the older girl and a younger girl. And a big stroller. Another woman got on with a backpack with wheels and a handle. The bus was relatively crowded, but there were a few empty seats.

A few stops later, a couple got on a with a young girl. The mom sat with the girl behind me who asked  
Where are we going? The mom told her we were on the bus.
Why are we stopped?
We have to pick the other people up. 

An elderly woman in a wheelchair boarded the bus. She had a white fur coat, a red-black-and-gold hat, and an electric wheelchair. Everyone in the front set of seats, including a young woman on crutches, had to move. One woman, with three bags of groceries, sat next to the woman with the two girls and offered to hold one of the girls in her lap. The driver told the mom that the stroller needed to be moved so that the elderly woman had room to turn her wheelchair around. I don't know where to put it, she said a few times, before someone else offered to hold it in the aisle.

Two stops later, a woman with a full shopping cart started to board the bus. Then she turned around and got off.

For the rest of the trip, the little girl behind me cried out whenever the bus stopped at a light or bus stop: Uh-oh, we aren't going. Go, schoolbus, go! When the bus started moving again, she cried Whee, we're going fast!

The elderly woman, the mom with the stroller, and a bunch of other people got off at 4th & Broadway. Bye, people! The little girl behind me cried.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#4 - northbound

Have you ever seen a Doberman seeing-eye dog before? A college-aged man got on the bus at my stop with a Doberman as either a vision-assistance dog or for another service-assistance need. The dog was huge but very well behaved. Quieter and took up less space than the yellow lab seeing-eye dog I've seen on the bus before with a different college-aged man. The lab sits kind of in the aisle but the doberman was under the front side row of seats. The young man had multiple piercings in his eyebrow and wore a Delta Upsilon t-shirt. A woman on the bus with a huge walking shopping cart seemed to know him or at least she talked like she knew him.

As an aside, those carts are really impractical. When they're empty, they fold flat but long, so that's awkward on the bus unless you can use that front area where people put their grocery bags or strollers. When it's full, it's deep and wide and too big for that front area and too big to tuck next to you. It only seems to be useful for the time when you're walking from the bus home with groceries. Someone needs to design a better cart.

***
Two young women stood across the street at the corner of 4th & Broadway by the Brown Hotel. One had a camera, and the other had a trumpet. The one with the trumpet posed with the instrument to her mouth while the other took pictures. A car drove by and the driver looked over and yelled something. [Something clever I'm sure. I've never heard anything more than "Woo-hoo!" or variations of before.]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

#4 - southbound

The driver and a passenger talked politics. This'll be Abramson's last Light Up Louisville, the passenger said. It was his last Derby, too. [Last hike-n-bike, too, I suppose. The man is running for lieutenant governor next year, however. It's not like he's crawling into a hole.]


Then the passenger and another man started talking about the fire* on 4th Street. Debris was on the sidewalk in front of the check-cashing place, which actually closed a couple months ago. There may or may not have been damage to the beauty salon [Miss Kay's] and barbershop on either side. The Chinese restaurant at the corner looked fine. By the afternoon, the debris was gone, and the check-cashing place's windows were boarded up.

* They said there was a fire, but I did not see anything in the news. If there was, something happened Monday evening or early, early Tuesday, because there was nothing amiss when the bus went by Monday afternoon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

# 4 - northbound

A man got on at 4th & Oak and loudly said, I think I'll sit right here or something to that effect. He was in the front side row of seats. Then he looked out the window and laughed at the guy outside being questioned by the police*. As the bus drove on, the man drank from his bottle of Diet Pepsi and said to no one in particular Some people are just crazy. A few stops later, he said Hey Maryann! Hi Phillip! as a man and woman got on the bus. Are you going to the next NAMI meeting? They chatted until the first man got off the bus one or two stops later. After he exited, Maryann said to Phillip, I thought he was in the hospital.

* A man was sitting on the low wall around the church at the corner of 4th & Oak with two police cars parked by the curb next to him. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bus, bike, or permit

From the local newspaper (the Courier Journal): University of Louisville seeking 'greener' profile

  • "A new survey shows that only 6 percent of students, faculty and staff actually use TARC for commuting."
  • The university wants to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030
  • U of L study found that commuting accounted for 9% of the university's greenhouse gas emissions
  • University looking at "low-hanging fruit:" "That includes reducing the number of small refrigerators and space heaters on campus and improving bicycle and pedestrian flow." [No comment on use of space heaters, la la la]
  • Financial incentives to get people to walk or bike: free bike if you don't get a parking permit?
  • Students say TARC is impractical - long wait times for transfers, safety concerns at stops at night

I do not have a parking pass and have not had one the entire time I've worked here. Sometimes, but very rarely, I park in the museum garage and pay $6 for the day. I agree that TARC riding can be impractical and difficult. If I have a doctor's appointment, I try to schedule it for first thing in the morning or last thing in the day. Otherwise, I lose too much time getting from work to the appointment and back again. Once, when I took two buses on my commute, my transfer was an hour late (or it never showed and I just got the one that came an hour later). I could have walked home, but it was pouring, pouring rain, so I huddled under a bank's overhang.

Have I mentioned my love for ZipCars (or other car-sharing programs) yet? I have not used the service before but really want to. Except it doesn't exist here, although it is on a number of other university campuses. A friend of mine who recently moved to the DC-area gave up his car and takes the bus or Metro to work and uses Zipcar (located on campus) for other errands and appointments. No car payment, no fuel costs, no parking permit for home or work.

I'm interested to see what the university comes up with in terms of incentives. Carrot or stick? More buy-in to help TARC meet the needs of the community? As for the possibility of a free bike, I'm not sure I would use one to ride to work unless there were much better bike lanes, but I certainly would not turn down a free bike.

See Jonathan Richman's "You're Crazy for Taking the Bus." [He's singing about the Greyhound type, but still]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 4, 2010

#4 southbound, Southland Park

This morning there were two university students with interesting hair. I've seen them both before but I don't know that I've seen them on the same bus. One sat right in front of me and the other sat diagonally in front of her. Staring at the back of their heads, I realized that maybe I don't focus on how the back of my hair looks enough. Girl #1 has layers that are styled so that her hair has a stylized windblown look, as though the wind blew against the back of her head and pushed the hair forward but in a very neat and non-messy way. Girl #2 had a modernized seventies-punk shag style that was dyed a shade of tangerine.

*******

I haven't heard any election talk on the bus this week. It was interesting during the campaign period to see ads for a House candidate on the back of some buses -- or maybe it was the same route, as I always only saw the ad on a bus at 8th & Jefferson. That candidate lost. No ads inside the buses.

Will the new mayor bring wireless to the buses? Do we care? On my bus routes, riders seem to be divided among 1) people who have 3G phones and don't need wi-fi, 2) people who don't have laptops or phones with Internet capability, and 3) people who don't care (or people who don't have cell phones). Perhaps other routes are different. I'd rather see a focus on replacing all older buses with hybrids and improving the schedule -- having the buses run more frequently, redeveloping the routes that were cut, and having the buses run on time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

# 4 - northbound after work

Greyhound driver. The bus was about 4 minutes late, which means I caught it 8 minutes earlier than I planned. I was already on the bus when a man in the back yelled to the driver to wait up. A woman scurried up to the bus and boarded. Then the man in back yells, Hey, sweetheart!

Wouldn't you like to board a bus just to be minorly sexually harrassed? Turns out, he recognized a different woman on the bus and went up to sit with her and talk.

Then another man yelled Hey, sweetheart...girl in the purple hat. Now my hat was grey, but the woman in the purple hat two seats in front of me turned around and glared and then ignored him the rest of the ride. I kept my headphones on.

Along the ride, a few more good samaritans notified the driver of people running to catch the bus. When the bus is late, I'm personally against stopping because the odds are the person was actually early for the next bus. But in the world of TARC, you can't be sure if there is a next bus. And I'm always grateful when the driver waits for me, so I should accept the courtesy extended to others.

Friday, October 29, 2010

# 4 - northbound after work

Same driver from Wednesday. When I got on the bus, I noticed his fancy chauffeur's cap (is there a better word for that?), but it had a greyhound pin on it. I then noticed he was wearing a tie and vest or jacket. Is this how bus drivers dress up for Halloween?

Later in the ride, he came back to the front seats to help a passenger in a wheelchair get off the bus. The elderly woman in front of me, and right behind the wheelchair, asked the driver, Do you work for the Hound?

I do when I finish here, he said.

Turned out that after his shift ended, he was going to drive a Greyhound bus to Atlanta. I'm impressed with two jobs and they certainly require similar skill sets, but that's a lot of driving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

# 4 - northbound

Today's driver missed his calling as a tour guide or train operator. Usually, you're lucky if the driver announces the cross streets at all, even in a muffled or mumbled tone into the microphone. Today's driver announced all the transfer stops and the transfer buses, plus he noted some of the landmarks we passed along the way:

Hill Street, transfer point for the 27 east and westbound.

Spalding University and Friendship House!


York Street, Louisville public library main branch!

Next stop is 4th & Broadway! Transfer point for the 23 east and westbound. [series of bus numbers] northwest corner.


He reminded me a little of a bus driver I had in Bloomington once on the Campus Shuttle route, which, even though it was a city route, picked up mostly students and took them to IU. We were stopped at a light "downtown" when the driver announced into the microphone, And to the left you see the city jail. Wave up to the prisoners on the 6th floor -- they like to see the buses go by.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

The bus was on time this morning. It was the regular driver who seems like she can't be bothered with looking at my ID but she always says Good morning. One man was already on the bus telling a story to the driver about his wife/lady friend who had asked him for cigarettes. I don't have any cigarettes! I don't smoke. But, apparently, he was going to the store, and after he bought what he needed he saw he had enough change to buy her some cigarettes. When he called to ask her if she wanted them, she said Why didn't you give me any cigarettes when I was there?

Friday, October 22, 2010

1. A.M. 
I was about a bus-length and a half to two bus lengths away from the corner of 6th and Jeff when the #4 Southland Park started to pull away. A man half a length in front of me ran to catch the bus. I did not. I could hurry and catch that bus if I wanted, but I'll just wait for the next one, I said, so we crossed Jefferson and continued down 6th Street. The bus comes every 12 minutes and it's a nice walk to the Chestnut Street stop.

Except the next bus was 10 minutes late, which meant I waited 22 minutes, which is longer than the length of my ride to work once I get on the bus. The longer I stood at the stop, the more ready I was to just turn around and walk home.

 
2. P.M.
The afternoon bus was just a few minutes late. The driver wore a beret and had a heavy foot. Surge forward, heavy braking. Surge forward, heavy braking. Ran a light near Central Park. A new driver got on at the Broadway stop and then charged ahead with the same determination. We drove right past the Chestnut stop, which looked like it was getting a new shelter. One shelter was on a trailer and another was on the sidewalk. The next day, though, the shelter at the stop looked exactly the same as had been there previously.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 afternoon

#4 - northbound after work

1. The bag lady was on the bus today. I assume she's homeless because why else would she carry around so many bags, but they're really nice bags. She has at least two small insulated cooler bags and at least one Vera Bradley bag, or at least it looks like a Vera Bradley bag. When she's on the bus, it's a Tuesday or Thursday. She's on before I get on and then gets off at Orsmby, which has the Puritan Apartments at that intersection. That building used to be a fancy hotel but now provides assisted living for seniors.

The bag lady is heavyset with tight blond ringlets and bright red lipstick. She looks a bit like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane but less scary. I have not seen a bird on a serving platter yet. She has a personal shopping cart that holds about 5 bags. Then she sits with a bag in her lap and two smaller bags, one of which goes across her shoulders and one of which is a canvas bag she carries like a purse. When she gets off the bus, she puts the big bag on top of the pile on the cart, hangs one bag across her shoulders, grabs the canvas bag, and then slowly maneuvers the cart off the bus. Everything seems clean and put together, but why does she have so many bags and where is she coming from? I have seen her walking at that intersection before without the cart and bags.

 
2. I got off at Broadway even though I was going home and could have waited 5 more stops, but I wanted the walk. I had my headphones on during the ride and on my walk. I had just crossed 6th Street at Jefferson when two men approached me from the steps by City Hall. There was a large garbage bag near them. One man hung back but the other said Excuse me ma'am so I took out one of my headphones.

Man: Do you have your wallet?
I shake my head slowly
Man: The reason I ask, as he motions toward the bus stop. Someone left their wallet on the bus and you were sitting in front of me. Did you drop your wallet?
Me: Oh, no, I'm fine. Thanks.

I walk away with some middle-class guilt because I thought he was asking me for money. I did tuck my hand into my bag and my pocketbook was there. But, really, the phrasing of the question was awkward, especially from a stranger on the street. I don't know who sat behind me because I was watching the bag lady in front of me. And just this morning the 60 Cent Lady asked me for money downtown, so I had pan-handling on my mind.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear students waiting for the shuttle,

Last year the university built a bus stop for you. It's the Cadillac of bus stops -- very large with benches and a button to press for heat. It has a roof and four glass walls that go all the way to the ground. It's nicer than the stops at the long-term parking lots at airports. And your shuttle, the one that carries you from the main part of campus to the hinterlands of stadium parking, looks very nice, too. Definitely nicer than the airport shuttle that possibly participates in Monster Bus Rallies on the weekends in Southern Indiana. Although sometimes you are stuck riding the city bus to the stadium and not the fancy shuttle.

Right now no one is standing there because the shuttle just came.

I want to say this shelter cost something like $500,000, although now I can't find the information and that may have been for more than one shelter. Maybe it was $50,000. But still, it has a roof and benches and open space between the benches yet still under the roof. Use it instead of crowding along the sidewalk  in front of the perfectly good shelter when the shuttle isn't even there yet, and stop blocking the sidewalk for people who have to walk another block to the city bus stop that has no heat and that does not protect against the elements because it only has walls on on three sides, walls that don't reach all the way to the ground, is not fully enclosed like yours, and only holds four or five people comfortably. Which in the rules of public personal space means there are only ever two people inside the shelter.

Why do you pay to park at the stadium anyway when you still have to ride a bus/shuttle? You could just take the city bus and save the parking permit. I understand that parking is at a premium. During college I drove 8 miles to school in traffic both ways, no matter what the time of day. After that, I selected graduate schools that were pedestrian friendly and had a plethora of housing options for students who didn't mind over-priced yet under-inspected apartments. And I walked. Or took the bus for free with my student id. Even today I walked over 2 miles by 9:30 and that was just to go to the doctor and then get to the bus stop to get me to work. I had to run across the street against the light to catch the bus. I sat behind a woman whose music I could hear even though she had earbuds on. I thought at first my iPod was playing in my purse even though the music didn't sound familiar.

Some of your peers were on the bus, talking on their cell phones or cramming for their exams. Then they crowded at the crosswalk without pushing the button and darted across the street in front of oncoming traffic when the Walk sign never showed up. You have to push the button. I know, it makes no sense that this high traffic area between the dorms, cafeteria, and academic buildings does not have automatic triggers for the lights. Maybe it's a test for college. If the light is not red, push it. Or at least get out of the way.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

# 4 - Southland park (southbound), on the way to work

Who says chivalry is dead? The bus started to pull away from 4th & Oak and a passenger pulled the cord for the next stop. The driver stopped but didn't open the doors. The passenger yelled "Next stop!" The driver still waited. A young man ran up to the doors, which the driver opened. The young man motioned behind him and started to walk a way. An older woman scurried up the sidewalk and got on the bus.

The bus was more full than usual for the morning, although I haven't been on this particular bus in awhile. There were at least a dozen people already on it when I got on and often it's empty at that point. A large number of people got off at my university stop, but quite a few people continued to the south.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

# 4 - northbound

1. The box behind the driver was open and a drawer holding two boxes that looked like smaller versions of VCRs slid in and out.

2. Fourth and Oak. Two men got on the bus. An elderly woman carrying a bag of groceries was still crossing the street but was more than 3/4 of the way to the stop. The driver closes the door and starts to drive off.

Male passenger: Hey, hey, HEY! There's a lady at the stop.


Female driver: You have to be on time. I have a schedule. She can wait for the next bus in 15 minutes. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Route 4 - northbound on the way home from work.

Bus stops for a woman who yells at the driver, "Do you have the #4 schedule?" Turns out, there are no Route 4 schedules on the bus. [Now it would make sense to have that schedule since it's the #4 bus, but if you're already on the bus, won't you know the schedule?}

Woman at stop: This is the 3rd bus I've stopped and no one has it. I need the schedule for tomorrow!

Female passenger on bus with gravelly voice: Oh, I've got a schedule for her. Passes it forward to the door. I don't know why she's so freaked out about the schedule. The bus will come when it comes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Route 23 - eastbound. On the way to the doctor's office.

I transferred from the 4 to the 23 to make my appointment in time. I rode 5 city blocks and stood at the back doors.

Voice of man on the back of the bus: Cereal...blah blah blah...I like Cheerios...cereal...etc.
[no transition]
I knew this girl in New Orleans. She tied me to the bed and beat me with a stick. Stripped me buck naked.