Is this experiment three strikes and I’m out? If so, I might have struck out today, not because I didn’t ride the bus. I did ride the bus, more than the rest of the week combined, but because I started out driving. Really it’s not my fault. If Intercity Transit would only allow small dogs that are contained, my girlfriend and I could have taken our Jack Russell to the vet by bus. But because they have to be so restrictive, we had to drive. (Rumor has it anyone can claim their dog is a service animal and bus drivers aren’t allowed to ask for proof, but I’m a little bit skeptical of this rumor.) By luck, our dog is very quiet and well mannered so we often joke that if only our dog would scream and defecate on itself like a baby, maybe it would be allowed on the bus.

So the vet visit was in the morning. In the afternoon we went to campus. We wanted to catch the 60 half a block from our apartment but I estimated its arrival time based on when it should arrive downtown, rather than when it should leave the last nearby stop. Looks like we missed it; I guess it arrived at the downtown station early. 

So we walked very briskly to get downtown. As we approached the transit center we saw the 41 and ran to catch it before it left. It pulled out of its bay at the transit center and about fifty feet forward to the stoplight on Franklin street as we arrived. I asked the driver if we could be let on the bus and was told dismissively, no. Apparently they have some rule about not letting passengers on at unmarked stops, but this seemed ridiculous, as we were able to stare at the bus sitting at the stoplight for at least thirty long seconds before it finally left. We had to wait 15 minutes for the 48. On the 48 the bus driver didn’t seem particularly warm, either, curtly telling boarding passengers to wait for disembarking passengers before they could board. No charm. 

Then something weird happened. There were two college-aged girls who had boarded the bus at some point, apparently having done a bunch of grocery shopping as they had a bunch of grocery bags. They were sitting at on the seats in the front of the bus that face inward as opposed to forward. As the bus turned onto Driftwood one of the girls tumbled out of her seat and onto the floor spilling groceries. She sat startled on the floor for a couple of moments before getting back into her seat. The bus driver didn’t seem to notice at all. The girl had smashed a plastic tub of olives during her fall and there was a puddle of olive juice splashed on the floor. The bus driver didn’t seem to care. 

The turn didn’t seem particularly forceful to me. Apparently she wasn’t holding onto the railing. When she got back into her seat she didn’t seem too upset. She and her friend were laughing. I think it might have been laughter in the sense of “I can’t believe that just happened, how weird!” But a part of me wonders if they knew this bus driver, and didn’t like him so they staged a dramatic fall that would create a mess. It seemed very strange. 

On the way home we caught the 41 at 6:00 pm. We got off at Garfield and Division to get a bite to eat at Vic’s Pizza and then do some shopping at Groce Out (Grocery Outlet). We were at Harrison and Division at 7:25 to catch the 48 but something different happened. At 7:27 a non-Intercity Transit bus stopped to let off a passenger. My girlfriend and I didn’t know we weren’t allowed to board this foreign bus. The bus driver informed us he wasn’t supposed to let us on. I suggested we were all going the same direction, so why not. He seemed satisfied with this but asked that we not mention details to anyone. I hope that my writing this down in such vague terms does not endanger him. He said Intercity Transit doesn’t like it when they (the foreign bus system) steal riders. My girlfriend and I had already paid, so no one was going to be getting any more money, so that part seemed like a moot point. 

What struck me was how much  more accommodating this driver was than the frigid drivers from earlier in the day. Although I was aware I was breaking some rules, this driver made me feel much more welcome. 

My girlfriend and I completed our trip by catching the 66 up Fourth Ave, getting off the bus at 7:50, and home at 7:55. Today conveniently demonstrated the extremes of the helpfulness of bus drivers. A nice way to end the week.

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