Thursday, July 26, 2018

Looks like Sweden

The drizzle in the early winter darkness provided slicked streets for my shift on the 10. I pre-tripped the bus and hopped on the highway for my starting point downtown at Central Terminal. These Monday morning runs were sweet. Even rush hour traffic barely affected our schedule.

One thing that did affect all of us on the bus was an annoying glitch in the onboard annunciator. Maybe it was a software update, but that uncanny man's voice would randomly  - and often - repeat his favorite phrases: "BOOTLOADER MENU" and "OFFSET ZERO", along with relentlessly long numbers and other techno gibberish. There was no way for me to stop it or even mute it. We would simply have to endure the machine's insistence on providing us with useless information at the expense of not announcing the actual stops. I would announce them old school style with my bus voice when the opportunity arose.

We flipped it around at Camino as the world settled into its groove. A friendly retiree who hadn't retired from Life boarded, asking about my Thanksgiving and if it was traditional. I told her there was no calamari on the menu and she responded by telling me about her Spanish food feast, no turkey.

The intersections rolled by: Sample, Copans, 14th St, Atlantic. A regular in his 30s made his way to the front of the bus as we approached his stop. His uniform was a t-shirt, shorts, and a ponytail.
"Looks like Sweden," he opined with a still-sleepy voice as he got off for another day at the boatyard. The blanketed sky was gray and pale, as if the sun was phoning it in.

Our first round trip in the books, I parked the bus at Central Terminal and headed across the street for breakfast. My friend the German bus fan came out as I was going in. He declined my offer of a breakfast burrito and coffee, and caught me up on his current situation.

The next trip got us pretty far uptown before an unfortunate scene spread before us. A horrific two-car crash forced one vehicle onto the median and the other by the curb. Shards of debris stretched for a block. One of our lanes was closed, but I couldn't tell about the other side. The only plus side to the incident was the location: it was right in front of Imperial Point Hospital.

A familiar face for years on this route awaited at Copans. He swiped his pass, which the farebox couldn't read, and begged for a day pass since "Other drivers do it." I had to apologize and remind him that I'm not other drivers and can't just give out passes. He rode to the end of the line.

About two-thirds of the way into the shift and we pick up the older gentleman who earlier had a court date regarding an open Corona on the beach. Now he was on his way back to court to finally resolve the issue.

The messy accident at Imperial Point was cleaned up quickly and we passed through the same space that had been chaos and gridlock an hour before.

Our final trip, and relief would be awaiting me at Copans Road. The stop before Atlantic had two slight figures by the sign. They were young Asian girls, with a single Margaritaville beach cruiser between them. It was a team effort to load it onto the bike rack, each taking one end. Their bike brought some color into the colorless afternoon. It was also blue and yellow, the national colors of Sweden.

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