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.