Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Bus Family

One of the great benefits of riding the bus is the chance to read a book, daydream, listen to music or just generally get inside your head. The regional buses are pretty good for napping as well, which I usually do as I listen to music on the way to Longmont every Monday to see Jessica and Petra. The humming of the tires and the swaying of the bus can have a hypnotic effect, and it’s not uncommon to be so engrossed in relaxing that you miss your stop. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but a matter of when.

There’s a physical reaction that occurs when a stop is missed, and it’s pretty easy to spot the symptoms before the rider actually speaks out, which they always do, usually in the form of some kind of curse words. It must be some kind of muscle memory, because our bodies sense that we have traveled too far, and sends a message to our brain. The first sign a rider has missed their stop is the look of confusion as they lift their head from their book or take their earphones out. They look around the bus, then they lean over to look through the windows at the surroundings passing by. They they look to the front of the bus at the bus number and the next stop that is displayed on a lighted screen. It ultimately ends with a desperate look to fellow passengers, and the question of “where are we?”

At that point, the bus comes alive with suggestions of back-up plans. Which bus to take at the next stop, whether to ride on and wait for a turnaround, or sometimes the bus driver just stops at an unauthorized spot to let the traveler off. I once had a driver on the 27 bus who knew we would be going through a detour, but none of us did. When she left the station and turned the wrong direction, all of us reacted the same way, and as she looked in her mirror at her bus full of panicked faces, she laughed and laughed.

Last week as we were nearing my stop on the L bus in Longmont, I noticed the driver was not in the left-hand turning lane, which took us the two blocks over to my stop. I figured he was taking a detour, as he had done earlier to get us through some construction. As we traveled through the light, all the passengers looked up and took notice. We looked at each other questioningly as the driver drove farther from our stop.  “Aren’t we supposed to turn here?” One asked. “I thought so, maybe we’re on a detour.” Offered another. We went another several blocks before the lady in front of me finally spoke out.

“Driver, weren’t we supposed to turn there?” Halfway through her sentence the driver let fly a cuss word. The look on his face was the same, well known look of passengers who had gotten so absorbed in their thoughts they forgot to get off the bus. He quickly pulled into the left turn lane and headed back toward our stop, apologizing all the way.

“On Hell. I’m so sorry. I totally spaced that turn.”

“No worries.” We told him. “It happens all the time. Thinking about something good?”

“Music.” He named a specific song that I was not familiar with. “I played it for my teenager the other night and he wasn’t impressed. I was trying to figure out if I played it wrong, or if I could do it better.” He apologized again as we neared our stop.

We all reassured the driver as we exited the bus that it was no big deal, it had happened to all of us, and jokingly told the remaining passengers to keep an eye on him to keep him on the right track.

Bus family, they always have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blasted! How embarassing

Today was a perfect day in every way. I was enjoying the incredible Colorado sunshine, with temperatures hitting above 70. The sky was clear, with a smattering of fluffy clouds, and I had been incredibly productive with my morning. I had filed stories, done some paperwork, cleaned up around the donation center, and had finished  my lunchtime errands with time to spare.

I was driving up Hampden on my way back to the office with the windows rolled down. The cool breeze was blowing my hair around, and I just got a  nice  haircut a few days ago so I was enjoying the hair blowing more than usual. I was feeling great and lookin’ hot, and to make things even better, the Pina Colada song came on. Actually, it’s a 1979 song by Rupert Holmes called Escape, but most people refer to it as the Pina Colada song because of its lyrics “If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain…”

One of my favorite songs, it brings tears to my eyes then makes my heart swell every time I hear it, which isn’t often. I turned the radio up so I could hear and sing along with the lyrics as I cruised along. I wasn’t disappointed when I hit a red light, it gave me that much more time to listen to the song. I pulled to a stop alongside a garbage truck, and saw that the driver was getting back in his truck, after stepping down to give the homeless guy on the curb some change. The garbage truck didn’t have doors, and I thought he must be lucky to get to enjoy so much fresh air on a beautiful day.

Life was good as I sat waiting for the light to turn, halfway through the Pina Colada song. But then, I suddenly heard the sound of loud, thumping rap music. And it was coming from the garbage truck. Immediately offended, I considered rolling my window up, when I realized, the garbage man was “blasting” me. He was doing to me what I had thought of doing hundreds of times whenever a young “Punk” pulled up alongside me with his music blasting, having absolutely no consideration for me or anyone else and forcing us to listen to their horrible music. He was overriding my music with his own.

Aw Crap. I was now the “punk.” Only I was blasting sappy, 1970’s love songs for everyone else on the road to hear. I nonchalantly reached over and turned my music down, then, without making eye contact, slowly rolled my window up and waited for the light to change.

 

 

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreadful Day in the City

DREADFUL DAY IN THE CITY
The day began wonderfully. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with Robert, and had several errands to run downtown, but nothing super-important. I was looking forward to spending the day riding buses, trains, and having plenty of time to finish a great book I was reading. One of the benefits of being a regular public transit rider in the suburbs, is that Rocco picks me up at Robert’s house in the short bus. Rocco is the morning driver, and Ricki is the afternoon driver. They pick me up and deliver me to the light rail station, or will take me to the grocery store if I need. It’s a great service, but I usually only take advantage of it in the morning, or when I’m carrying a lot of goods home. The rest of the time I enjoy the two mile walk from the station.
Today I had to be downtown by 10:30 to interview a homeless man for a monthly profile for the VOICE. When Rocco arrived to pick me up the air was cool and smelled of wet, fresh grass. The sun was rising, and it was shaping up to be a hot, but beautiful day. I had a moment of spontaneous euphoria as Rocco drove to the station, windows open and the cool breeze washing over me. It was going to be a good day.
Or so I thought. My interview turned out to be too time consuming and tedious. If I spend more than one hour on an interview, I end up making an hourly wage that is miniscule. The profile only entails 500 words, so a quick synopsis of their life is sufficient, mostly I need a couple of quote about selling the paper, and the point is to let readers know where to find them. It was quickly apparent that the theme of this interview was, as a man with undiagnosed bi-polar disorder, his life was disrupted and he remained homeless because he cycled through success and destruction every 4 to 6 months. I was sympathetic to his story, but he insisted on reciting EVERY detail of EVERY failure, EVERY six months of his life. I gently tried to prod him along, but he was insistent upon the details. It’s always hard for me because I do my best to respect every subject and make them feel that everything they say is of the utmost importance, but I really couldn’t afford to spend the three hours the interview was turning into.
I left a little angry with myself. Both for rushing the interview, and for letting it go on too long. I scolded myself as I walked the 1.3 miles home to my apartment. My next point of business was to renew my discount prescription card. I had let it lapse, and I only use it for certain items, my diabetic drugs I get at another pharmacy, which was my third stop for the day. So I entered the apothecary with my 15 pages of renewal paperwork, only to be told that it would not be honored. When I first signed up for the card, they allowed me to use the receipts and paperwork until my official card came in the mail. I assumed that would be the case again. Not so. For some reason, the law is that if you let it lapse there is no leeway for renewals. Why? I asked, that’s rather ridiculous. The young girls were sympathetic, but raised their arms in the air and made the statement, “We know it’s ridiculous. And there’s no reason for it. But it’s the law.” Frustrated I left. Mostly because there was nobody to rage against. Nobody to call and say “What the hell were you thinking?” It seems like just another ridiculous bit of control that is exercised against us in the name of “Medical Care.”
Between the never-ending interview and time spent arguing unsuccessfully, my bus transfer had expired, which meant I would have to spent another $2.25 to get to the pharmacy for my insulin. I get a great sense of accomplishment at planning my day precisely so I can get around with only one pass. It was already noon and I was cranky as I boarded the 52 bus bound for Denver Health. The driver was a nice old lady who met me with a big smile, and in a very pleasant voice announced every stop. I was feeling more relaxed as I got off the bus. I would pick up my test strips and insulin, have lunch, and still be able to make it home on the same transfer, since they were good for three hours. Then I noticed the nice driver had not changed the time for the hour, and my transfer was only good for two hours. Dammit!
I rallied again when I saw the line to drop off prescriptions was not that long. And I admit I rallied a little more as I listened to the man in front of me argue with the clerk about his prescription. They had the wrong units, or read the prescription wrong, whatever the problem, I heard that they were unable to give him enough insulin to get him through the month. He was a huge man, and when I overheard how much he was taking I thought it was impossible that one human could take that much and not die. I was very happy, and a little smug, knowing that my prescription included much less insulin, and, having promised my doctor I would keep a log of all food and insulin taken, I was feeling pretty high and mighty that my visit here would be much more pleasant.
Wrong again. I approached the window and told the apathetic clerk I would like two vials of humalog. Without checking the computer, she looked directly at me and said, “You can only get one.”
“They let me get two at a time. I do it every couple of months.” I replied. She didn’t bat an eye, and still didn’t even pull up my record.
“No. You can’t get two.” I checked my temper. It wasn’t that imperative, but since there was a minimal charge for them, it was more convenient to cover two months at a time. Whatever.
“Okay, then I just need test strips then too.” She finally pulled my record up on the computer.
“Sorry. It hasn’t been 30 days. You can’t get those until tomorrow.”
She should have thrown in some blood pressure medication for free, because I could feel my face going red and a trembling began deep inside. Deep breath, deep breath.
“I’m sorry. My doctor has instructed me to check my blood sugar five times a day. I can’t do that without test strips. Can you please look at my record?”
Her apathy was replaced with snottiness. “You can use the house phone to call him, then he can re-write the order and we can re-process the order. But no, I can’t do anything from here. You can come back tomorrow, then it will be 30 days.”
I really am proud of myself for letting it go. Mostly.
“Will tomorrow at 11 be okay to pick up your humalog?” Her apathy was back.
“No, I will wait for that please.” I said, I was not leaving empty-handed.
“Fine, it will be about 45 minutes.” She showed the first sign of emotion, in the form of delight as she informed me I would be waiting a long time. Ha! I had news for her.
“Wonderful!” I said, flashing her a big smile. “I have a good book I’ve been dying to finish, and the cafeteria has great salads.” That showed her. I marched off and went to pay too much money for a really bad salad, but dammit, I did read my book.
Insulin in hand, I got back on the 52 bus to continue my journey back out to Robert’s, where I looked forward to lounging on the patio and wrapping up some blog posts. I was in immediate trouble with the driver, as I tried to board the bus without realizing a wheel chair was trying to exit. He yelled at me to “hold up,” then I waited as he lowered the ramp and the chair rolled off. He made it a point to hold me at bay for about 30 second longer than necessary after he raised the ramp, I think just to make sure I knew he was the boss.
I took a seat in the back and looked at my transfer. It expired at 3 o’clock. It was now 2:45. We would get to the train station about 2:58, and I my stop was about 10 minutes past that. Angry at the original driver all over again, I wondered what the technicalities of the pass were. If I boarded the train while the pass was still good, would it count? Given my experience with RTD employees, it would not. But we were talking about a matter of minutes. My internal battle was interrupted by a woman in the middle of the bus yelling “This is my stop!”
“NO bell was rung!” Yelled the driver.
“I rang the bell!” She argued back.
“I stopped for the stop you rang the bell for! That was on the other side of the street! No bell was rung for THIS stop!” The driver yelled, as he slammed on the brakes, pitching all of us forward as the woman worked her way off the bus. That seemed like the final sign that this day was not the day to tempt fate. I bought a fresh ticket at the station, but was still grumbling about it as I bumped along. Then, two stops before my exit, a transit cop appeared from behind me.
“Tickets please.” I was giddy with relief as I flashed him my pass, he smiled, wished me a good day, and moved on to the next person. I looked at the time. It was 3:03.
I replayed my ridiculously tedious day in my head as I began the two mile walk home. But soon the bunny rabbits were darting across my path, the geese meandered toward me to shake me down for food, and I noticed the trees had finally started to turn green. Sure the day had cost me three transit passes, but I did come away with an interview, a bottle of insulin, and narrowly escaped a transit fine of $75. And in retrospect, I couldn’t really remember the last time I had such a terrible day. Most of my days have been good, so I shed my worries along the walking path, happy to know that I probably had another six months or so before I would have a bad day again.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment