Metro Transit

July 26th, 2007

It was one of the hottest days of the summer. The heat index had it marked at 110 degrees. I was working at the Newspaper that afternoon and was heading to Washington and Oak to catch two buses home. Right now the U of M Campus looks like a battle zone. Roads are torn up, sidewalks closed, cones decorate areas that used to be covered in grass. It makes it hard to get to the bus even though it’s only a few blocks away.

I boarded a new bus that day. The 2E. It took us down Washington to Franklin and dropped off at Nicollet. I got off with a woman and what I believe was her daughter. They were latino and were heading south. I’m not sure where, to the dentist, to meet the mothers step father at a restaurant in Richfield, to go to work a club, I have no idea. The 18 came and I read the whole way home. I get off at the Burger King on 34th street.

I’d realized that morning that when I say, “Thank you,” or “Have a good one,” it comes out sounding forced and insincere. I was bothered by this, so I made sure to really mean it when I got off and flashed the driver a very sincere smile. You can feel it in your eyes, when they are smiling too because you really mean it.

There was a genuine man that stood on the sidewalk with a medium sized husky-like dog. You could tell the it was proud because its tail curled all round to its hind. I commented on the big fella and gave him a pat. The man told me that the dog was only a year old and we made small talk about the heat. We were walking in the same direction and he kept a distance because there must have been something the dog smelled in my purse.

I hate that we are taught to be so skeptical of people. I know it’s good to be cautious in rough neighborhoods, but I couldn’t help having thoughts that the man was following me home to see where I lived when I knew it was so untrue. I pushed those thoughts aside and smiled back at the two as I turned the corner to Pillsbury. There were several chicano mothers and grandmothers and little children and babies in the neighborhood wading pool.

I have never had an easy time getting out of bed. I work downtown and this morning I awoke to my fifth snooze, got up and left so abruptly that my kitten was still cuddled in my bed looking at me with angst, her eyes pleading at me to come back and be her warmth. But I tore myself away and made a run for the bus.

Running to the bus is something I do regularly and the black man on the 35th street holla’d at me like he usually does. He shouted, “LADY, where you been? I miss seein you in a hurry.” He always sees me running to the bus. It’s really absurd actually. He stands at this fence, like the neighbor in the TV show Home Improvement. It’s always about 8:34 when I run by. The bus comes at 8:34 and depending on the day it can be anywhere from right on time to seven minutes late. So I always run. It’s only two blocks, but I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t run.

The bus is another story entirely. If I am feeling ambitious to get in to work early, I could take the 8:11 bus. On that bus people are usually wearing suits and carrying brief cases. There is a man that wears a full suit and carries a ninja turtle lunch box every day. One of those classic aluminum types. A few weeks ago I hopped on the 135 at 5:27, which stops at every block going south on 2nd Avenue. The 135 takes a left at 11th street and jets over Lake. It’s the express bus. The bus slunked to a heavy stop at tenth street. I looked up to watch the people getting on as I usually do. I can’t help but wondering where they’re going. You can learn alot about a person on a bus by what they are carrying, what they are wearing, how nicely groomed or ratty their hair is, if they smell of stale whisky, if they have a child, if they are having a very private cell phone conversation in public, if they had to sit outside of Nicollet Mall with a cup for a few hours to get the fare to ride. It’s the drunk ones that I can’t help staring at. Wondering. When it’s hot and 1:36 on a friday afternoon. Usually the drunk ones ride the 18. The 135 has an etiquette that riders are supposed to follow. It only runs at rush hour. In the morning at 8:11 and 8:34. Which is why I run down Pilsbury Avenue at 8:34 in the morning. If I missed it I would have to take the 18 which stops at every street on Nicollet- 28 blocks to my office. The etiquette on the evening 135 is assumed that cell phones are not to be used during the ride. You greet and thank the driver as you board and exit. And most importantly, riders pay on their way off. It seems to save time.

On that particular day I was reading “The Alchemist.” Not only is the bus the most efficient transportation to Minneapolis, the most cost effective and environmentally friendly, I’ve also found that you can get a lot of good reading done on the bus. As my weight shifted to the right and back on 10th street, I looked up over my book pages to observe the new passengers that climbed on. A man in a full black suit sat down across from me. We were facing each other because the front of the bus has vertical rows. I assumed he was holding a brief case but as a slanted my book down I almost laughed when I realized that it was the man with the ninja turtle lunch box.

I have been re-reading “On the Road” and just caught up to where I had left off the first time. It is an interesting book to read on a bus. You tend to equate personalities from certain characters to the people in the seats around you.

I got to work and headed straight for the coffee. There are some days where you pretend to be busy. It was not one of those days. I could barely keep an eye open and somehow everything was due in the next hour.

I made it through the morning, and ate my leftover thai food for lunch with two huge glasses of ice water. Haynes tends to send me messages throughout the work day. He told me how the rain was coming down into the studio he was working at today. At my office, however, it was sunny. Though in the distance it was black and clouded like a stormy monster and looked to be taking in the buildings of Minneapolis, sucking them into its darkness. John was on the other side of the skyline, only a few blocks away, “Thats weird we are so close to each other and its not raining there. We just tell stories and jokes, it’s perfect.”

I love people who are genuine and interesting. People that have hobbies and say what they feel. I have met so many people like that recently. People like Amy and John and Will, people like Steve and Jeff, people like the man with the one-year old husky, like the bus driver on the 135 that shouts like a baseball announcer when he calls the play, “lllllllLAKE street!” I like taking the bus.