02 December 2005


This is a bit different - didn't take the bus today, but want to tell about the ride home last night. It started out awkwardly - a bus rounded the corner and the bus info sign light wasn't working. With my bad night vision I had no prayer of seeing what was up there, if anything. I stepped forward and the bus slowed then stopped about 20 feet before reaching me. I couldn't read the sign and was walking slowly toward the bus. The door opened and I heard the driver say "...six south" - since I wanted 66 southbound, I ran to the bus and asked if it was 66 south. The driver said yes, I sighed with relief and boarded. I told him the sign wasn't working and he said he knew that - I'm sure he'd heard the complaint before (duh!) but put a hand written sign in the window or something (duh!). I thanked him for announcing and sat down. The driver looked vaguely familiar and I wondered if he yelled the bus number because he saw and remembered me?

I had the bus to myself for a few stops and then some interesting people got on. First was a huge, huge man - huge in tall and big frame - not fat. He was easily 6'8" and maybe some. He had very long hair, worn like movie women in the 40s - nicely brushed, parted on the side combed across the forehead - Veronica Lake maybe? He was wearing a brown jacket and cargo shorts in a fashion like a UPS driver and carrying a brown briefcase. It was an odd combination and enhanced by his immense size. He talked to the driver and the man across from him and seemed quite nice and normal.

The next interesting people to get on were a young man and woman. He looked like a standard issue college student and she looked somewhat the same except for being extremely overweight. She was only about 5' tall and that added to her rotund appearance, I'm sure. Kind of an "as wide as high" thing. She talked very loudly - I mean almost yelling. It was as though every word was meant to be heard by everyone on the bus and possibly people in cars next to the bus. It wasn't a pleasant voice and she didn't say things that most people want to hear. One snippet of conversation: "Do you know the cross dresser that works at Circle K? EVERYONE knows him - who are you if you don't know him?" I don't know him and was disturbed to think someone like her just decided I was NO ONE because I didn't know this person. She was rude, obnoxious, smelly (horrible cigarette odor) and generaly yucky. I tried and tried to think of some redeeming quality or understand that things directed her to be this way, but I could not find one shred of compassion or empathy for her. She was awful - her conversation, her attitude, her language, her odor, her appearance. I couldn't wait for her to get off that bus and I think everyone else concurred. We all sat with twisted bodies facing front as best we could. I swear there was a collective sigh when she departed. My first truly unbearable experience on the bus.

She was gone, relief was in the air, but it became a little more interesting as we got closer to my stop. The large fellow with the briefcase, opened it and took out a box cutter. I know a box cutter and it was a box cutter. He closed the briefcase and put the box cutter in his jacket pocket. He looked just fine, but I had to wonder what was up with the box cutter. Was he going to attack the driver and hijack the bus? He and I were the only passengers and I obviously wasn't worth any kind of ransom. It was just such an odd, random act. Oh well, I knew the number was painted on top of the bus just in case it became a police emergency. We kept getting closer to my stop and then I wondered if he was waiting to get off when I did and kill me? It would happen on court TV ... he pulled the cord for the stop before mine, however, and got off like any normal passenger. Thanked the driver and walked away. Didn't hear of any slashings or killings overnight, so who knows?

The last oddity of the ride - once the guy was off and the bus started to go, the driver said, "you're the next stop, right?" And he was right ... I knew he looked familiar and thought he might have remembered me from another time, but to remember the stop where I got off? Freaky night on the bus.

01 December 2005


Gotta say this number does not ring any bells. Still in the 4100 class, but that 45 at the end just isn't familiar. They all look so much alike, only the number could make a difference - too busy to archive dive for reference.

Another cold morning at the bus stop. As I was getting ready to cross Guadalupe, a bus roared by - I was about a minute late leaving home, but didn't think the 66 would get there so early. Sometimes the 92 is very late and I just hoped it was 92 whizzing by and not 66. Crossed the street, hopped around for a few minutes and bless it, good old 66 arrived. The problem with a bus that runs every 1/2 hour, by the time you decide you did miss the bus, it's really too late to go back home and warm up as it would be time to come back to the stop - might as well just do some on-site exercising and practice vile oaths and death threats to the bus company - it's ALWAYS the bus' fault that a ride is missed. Riders NEVER are responsible for their own destiny ...

The ride was quiet, calm and uneventful. I've decided the cold temperatures and morning darkness combine to make somnambulists of bus riders. We function, but with no energy or life - sleep riders actually. I'm pretty sure everyone is sound asleep with their eyes open. No group of people could be so unreactive without a logical explanation. Just can't figure out how we know when to pull the cord for our stop - subconscious behavior? Predestiny? Too much for my early morning brain to contemplate.

29 November 2005


Remembered to look today - didn't bring my book so I could pay better attention to the ride. I think I've been on 4123 a lot lately - I know it was a take home bus the other night. Again with the 4100 class.

Freezing ass cold at the bus stop - must have been 40 degrees tops and light wind. Felt I was well dressed, but still had to do some hopping and foot shifting to keep the extremities warm. Only supposed to go up to 65 for a high today - mid 70s are coming tomorrow, though.

Lots of regular riders, hardly any new ones. Amazing how comfortable it gets. Different driver today - wonder what happened to my little pirate ... hope he gets another shot at route 66.

Even without book there was nothing remarkable to report about today's ride - smooth, uneventful - a lot more pleasant than driving.

22 November 2005


Geez, another lost number. I'm so focused on reading my book, I forget to look at the bus number. Layout was the same as all the 4100s, so I'm sure it's one of those. The other day I was at a meeting on the second floor of the Foundation Bldg and seated right next to the window. I could look down on College Street where all the buses come and go. To my surprise, the bus numbers are painted on top of the buses, just like the movie, "Speed". Can't imagine anyone hijacking a bus on good old route 66, but I guess anything is possible in this world. Nice to know we could be found if lost.

Today's ride was unusual only in that no one spoke to anyone else. Usually there is some chatter between a couple of riders, but today was complete silence. About half the regular riders were on it, but none that converse. A different driver - haven't seen my old counterfeit printer friend for a couple of weeks. My riding has been sporadic, but I should have seen him if he was still on the route. Wonder if they purposely rotate the drivers? Avoids complacency, but it's nice when there's someone who knows what's going on - the driver looks for the regulars and makes small exceptions. Maybe that's what the bus company wants to avoid. Too bad if it is.

18 November 2005

#I don't know

Sorry to disappoint, but I completely forgot to look at the bus number. I'm sure it was just one of the 4100 boys - nothing remarkable. I have a book I'm reading and have become a bit obsessive about getting to it ASAP on the bus. Really hampers my observations, but I must finish. Need to use a book while waiting for the bus and not so much while on the bus.

Last night's ride home was a blast. The bus was full and I was going to stand, but a kind person made space for me in the front seat - wedged between one of the morning regulars and a seriously large girl. The bus kept getting more passengers and a guy got on and hit me full in the face with his backpack. No big deal and he was very apologetic. Eventually, the regular rider to my left got off and the backpack guy sat down. He asked if I rode this bus often and I said every day, but not at this time. He laughed and said it looked like I wouldn't be riding it at 5pm in the near future. I said I would avoid if possible. Told him how nice and uncrowded the 6am bus was and the large girl to my right agreed and another man said the 5:30 am was even nicer, but it took him an hour to get to work. I said I worked at ASU and had a nice, short ride. Backpack guy asked if I was a professor and I told him I did web things and was a student. He seemed a wee bit surprised and I said I didn't go earlier in life and when the opportunity arose with the tuition waiver, I took it. Told him I was graduating in December and he was so nice. Kept saying, "that's cool" and "good for you". His enthusiasm made the whole thing worthwhile.

That's what's so nice about the bus - these small group interactions - might never see any of these people again, but we chatted like old friends for a few minutes and the trip and day and life were better for it.

16 November 2005


Doubt if this craft is new - one of these days I'll go through the archive and make a list of buses ridden so I'll know. Never thought I'd get this far. Today's ride had to be an all-time snooze. The only remarkable thing was me being the very first rider on the bus - a virgin-like experience that lasted until the next stop. Oh well, it never happened before, so it was unique. I brought my book along and read the whole way. The book is good and apparently nothing of attention-grabbing note occurred since I read without distraction until time to get off. It's dark for the whole ride, now, and that makes things outside the bus less distracting. Watched the moonrise on last night's ride home, but it had already set by this morning. No complaints, just makes for a boring blog entry.

15 November 2005


Uh oh, forgot to archive dive and see if this guy is new. The number is vaguely familiar, but aren't they all by now? Kind of a non-regular regular day. Regular driver - not there. Regular newspaper guy - not there. Regular backpack guy - not there. Other regulars - there. There was no heat on the bus - not sure if the driver was having hot flashes or the system was broken. Was really looking forward to the warmth of the bus after standing in the cool (well, cold since it's Arizona) morning air and there was no warmth. There actually was the ever-so-slight smell of rotten eggs. A bit like a sewer smells, but very faint. I couldn't connect it with anyone, just seemed to be part of the bus. Oh well, it's always something where my nose is concerned. Steve, the auto mechanic/USA Today guy had a nasty cough - made me wonder about the bus and flu season. I never think about these things usually, but the pandemic talk has me thinking about sneezing and coughing and closeness these days. Talk about a place prime to share germs - the only place worse is an airplane with it's closed air system. The bus at least gets some outside air passing through as the doors make frequent openings. Hate to drive, but wonder if it might not be prudent for the next few months ...?

08 November 2005


Holey moley - what a bus ride!!! This day surpassed anything that has gone before. Not even sure I can relate everything that went on - oh well, best shot. First, this is a repeater - last seen on September 29, 2005 - had to do an extensive archive dive for that info.

The bus was later than usual - I saw it coming and thought it was going way too fast to stop - it went by me and then screeched to a halt about 10 feet past the stop. As it flashed by I saw the number 108 on the sign (huh???) but saw a regular in the back seat so raced down to the door and jumped on. Not the regular driver (no surprise) but a woman who apologized - said she didn't see me for the glare (like my white hair doesn't glare in the headlights?). No big deal and I grabbed my usual seat, ready for a calm ride to school. The driver continued with the bat-out-of-hell driving and slid past two other riders at two other stops. She saw them, but just barely. Both are regular passengers and both made laughing comments about the "near misses". I noticed that there were no new faces. Every one who boarded was someone who I've seen regularly before. There is always, always, always someone new and it was starting to get freaky as everyone was familiar to everyone else. The driver calmed down a bit and, except for the lack of new faces, the ride took on the flavor of "usual", that is until we got to the Tempe High School stop - release the hounds!!!

A couple got on the bus with their luggage - each had two huge suitcases plus a "carry-on" - took forever for them to get on the bus and situated in seats. After they loaded, two more people got on, a woman and a man. The driver, in the loudest, meanest, most hateful bitchy voice ever yells to the woman, "Hello - I NEED TO SEE IT!", referring to the woman's transfer slip. It was the most unprovoked, hate-filled voice and attitude I have ever heard. Near as I could see, the woman did nothing to be treated so rudely and my (and that of several other passengers') jaw went down. What the ....? Now, earlier on, it became apparent that the cords on the bus were not activating the stop message. It had worked out because people were getting on at all the stops where people wanted off. However, the woman who had just been yelled at wanted off the bus and pulled like a maniac on the cord. It didn't work and, of course, the driver didn't stop. The woman walked forward to the front next to the driver and said something in Spanish - trying, I believe, to convey that she needed to get off the bus. The driver yelled at her again and made angry motions for her to get behind the yellow line. It was crazy and the woman retreated to the back of the bus. My stop was next and before I could do anything, the engineer guy yelled from the way back seat - "Next stop, please." We were at the light at Apache and Mill and I wasn't sure she heard him, so I stood up and said, "Next bus stop, please." I moved forward and the driver calmly stopped the bus at the stop. I said thank you as I got off and she was as nice and pleasant as could be. Note, the woman who wanted off the previous stop did not get off.

Once off, a guy who gets off there, too, when he rides, looked at me and I looked at him and he said, "What was that about?" I had to laugh as it was so nice to know I wasn't alone thinking this was one crazy lady driving that bus. I commented to that effect and he said, "You know, some people just hate Hispanics, maybe that was the problem." I couldn't disagree because there was no other explanation.

This took lost in translation to a new level and added several new dimensions of weirdness. The driver was a fairly young African American woman and I was totally unprepared for her meanness to the Hispanic lady. I don't know if ethnicities came into play here, but would not have expected discriminatory behavior in this instance. Whatever caused the rift, it was a ride to remember.

03 November 2005


This might be a new bus. I see 4132 and 4134, but not the 33. Whatever, it looked like all the other 4100 series. Wonder if there are 4100 of them? Took some sewing on today to see if it increased the ride speed. Didn't feel it was as fast as the other day, so dodging furniture dolly man's questions must have been the real secret to a fast ride. Not sure I want to repeat that, though. Today's ride had lots of new people and lots of conversations. Especially interesting since I could keep my eyes on my work and listen extra hard. Had a substitute driver who knew a passenger and they chatted up a storm the whole way. The back of the bus was in full discussion - flu guy even moved from his usual corner seat and got up in the high back area. Lots of sports talk again until engineer guy got on - he actually used the word "capacitor" today - amazing. Ride had a very "hubbub" feel about it, but energizing, not exhausting. Glad, too, since I woke up at 2:45 am and never went back to sleep. Gonna be a long, long afternoon.

02 November 2005


I know this is a repeat bus. Almost all the 4100 class buses look the same - difference just seems to be amount of wear and tear to the individual craft. I think the 66 route has a ridership that's not too hard on the vehicles. I've ridden some on the 81 that are seriously worn down - flattened seats, no padding, lots of general scuffing. The 66 buses never seem to have the abused quality that I've found on some of the 81s. The 66 just caters to a kinder, gentler ridership.

Today's kind and gentle ride was just that - uneventful and polite. Many regulars and a whole slew of new riders. Wish I was a bus researcher and could ask lots of pertinent questions. There are so many stories behind the stories - be nice to get into a few of them.

Noticed everyone is wearing coats in the morning - gonna be 90 degrees this afternoon, but it was cold at the bus stop. Must have been around 50 and that's freezing to acclimatized Arizona blood. Half the stuff I carry is clothing - overalls for painting class, light shoes for heat, coat for coolness, long sleeve shirt for over-the-top air conditioning. It's difficult staying comfortable in Az even when it's the nice time of year. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times -- they can get people to the moon and back, but have no idea how to regulate an HVAC system. Our brightest and best aren't working on basic life comforts, apparently.

Not much of a bus blog, today - not much of a bus ride.

31 October 2005


I think this might be a new-to-the-blog bus. Forgot to dive before I started this post. They all look the same now - I need something really unusual to spark my memory. Regular driver was there and many regular riders. Low key ride and dolly boy was not back - I knew it! No one can haul a furniture dolly around on a bus day after day after day. Whew!

Back of the bus engaged in a small amount of Monday morning review of football weekend talk. Was actually kind of funny listening to them describe the Cardinals - lowered the bar to a new level; it's a business, not a sport; they are paid to play, not to win; makes participation in professional sports almost accessible to the common man (that last one really cracks me up). Mike and I had a good football weekend - ASU and Bengals both won. They weren't pretty victories, but the mark is in the correct column and that's what matters most.ASU isn't home again until the day after Thanksgiving - guess I can go to the studio and get stuff done for a change.

Had an email exchange with Dave that prompted three haikus:

A brownie picnic --
Moments of chocolate bliss
spent under the stars.

Tiny crescent moon
Smile barely lights my way;
A new day begins.

In the cool night air
The cigarette smoke wanders;
She knows where he is.

Almost prolific - never have figured out where these things come from - don't do them for months on end and one day everything I think is in the 5, 7, 5 meter of a haiku. Wonder if I was a Japanese writer in a former life and he/she is trying to get out occasionally? Only explanation I can think of. Didn't say mine were good, but they are almost accurate. Should put a mention of the season in - difficult in Arizona as all seasons kind of blend together. I'll work on it the next time the haiku bug attacks my brain.

27 October 2005

#I don't know

Completely forgot to look at the bus number this morning. Got on and started stitching on my t-shirt project and lost track of time and place - sort of... Was stitching along and some guy got on the bus with a furniture dolly. I've seen some larger items carried onto the bus - even toted a few myself - but this was one strange thing. Wonder if he planned to haul something back on the dolly on the bus? Should have asked.

Anyway, he was one of those people who don't know a stranger and immediately engaged me in conversation. Asked me what kind of sewing I was doing. He wasn't rude or even obnoxious - just unable to sit quietly on the bus and wait for his stop. I knew he wasn't really interested in the sewing, just wanted a conversation and the sewing was the opener. I told him it was resist for screen printing and that actually silenced him for a moment. Not sure if he was thinking about it, totally confused, whatever. Gave him no detail, but certainly gave him pause for some kind of reflection. He then started talking and I tried to be pleasant while speaking as little as possible. He was quite good at going on by himself, but every now and then asked me a very pointed question to bring me back into his discourse. The timing was good as I finished my line of stitching just as I needed to pull the cord for the stop. I folded the shirt, put it in my backpack and stood up for the stop. The guy talked the entire time and was hollering "have a good day!" as I stepped off the bus.

I realized as I walked toward work that the bus ride seemed to take about 5 minutes - fastest ride I've ever experienced. Not sure if it was the sewing or artfully dodging conversation - it was just plain fast. Think I'll try sewing again to see if it was the culprit. Pretty sure that guy won't repeat - how many times can you take a large dolly on the bus?

26 October 2005


This is a repeat bus, but I don't remember its configuration being so different - seemed a little elongated this am - perhaps my brain wasn't at full capacity and it just seemed the bus was longer because the brain was shorter. Who knows?

This was right up there with one of the all time most boring rides ever. Could hardly keep my eyes open. Many regulars, many new - regular driver wasn't there and I'm beginning to think that does impact the flavor of the ride. Finally, toward the end, the bike guy and the flu guy began discussing global economics - wish I'd been sitting just a tad closer. There was an extremely large young man sitting next to me and I think his physical size blocked some of the bike guy's conversation. His words went in and out of focus, while I could hear the flu guy very clearly - he was catty cornered across from me - sound waves didn't have to go through the massive body to my left. Either that or waxy buildup in the left ear - again, who knows? Their conversation made me realize I need to find a reliable, unbiased (ha!) news source and get back in the loop. I'm so sick of the fear-pandering, blood-lust of the news media (print and video alike) - they let W be elected - fie on them! Perhaps the Hindu Times or the London Times - need to get off this continent to learn what's going on in the world. Wow - did I just get almost politically active in this blog? Time to retreat.

25 October 2005


This is a new craft. Made a full-scale archive dive and found no reference to #4134 - lots of 4100 buses, but no 34. Seemed clean and fall fresh - well vacuumed, etc. Merry maids would be proud.

Today's bus ride was totally and completely "normal" - regular riders chatting in the back, regular riders getting on and off at their usual stops - absolutely, positively boringly normal. Didn't realize how much I looked forward to the odd or quirky event that is the real guts to this blog. Don't want too much adrenaline, just something to chew and reflect upon. Today provided nothing. All familiar faces doing their standard routine. Even the engineering guy got on and engaged in the conversation without shutting it down or steering it to parts unknown and unwanted. How dull can that be when you can't count on the local color to contribute -- color, that is.

Oh well, it was kind of neat - just before my stop the computer lady voice announced, "Arizona State University", and four of us got off, scattering in multiple directions. As I walked east on Gammage Parkway, the sunrise silhouettes of the buildings and ever-present palm trees reminded me that I do live and work and play in Arizona now - hits me like a whack-a-mole punch every now and then.

24 October 2005


Once again I'm just too preoccupied to archive dive to see if this is a repeater. Nice bus, nothing special or weird. Regular driver was not there. Pretty sure Monday is one of his semi-regular days off. Wonder if there are substitute drivers? Like the guy today - does he have a regular route and once or twice a week subs on other routes? Does our regular guy sub on other routes? Might have to discourse with him about how these things work. Geez I ask too many questions.

Back of the bus sounded like a wannabe version of ESPN's sports center. Not exactly Monday morning quarterbacking, just lots of re-hashes of all the football games from yesterday. Fun to listen to, although not nearly as articulate and "clever" as ESPN - more like a "reality" sports center. About halfway through the ride this ASU student gets on (he's the one who asked about my tackle box and told another lady about an "excellent book on prayer"). He's familiar with the backseaters and always immediately joins the conversation. However, he never talks sports, it's always about engineering topics. Today he announced some grant that became available and started using terms like "electron compositor" and "rigorous polynomials" - in seconds, he was the only one talking and the whole bus became eerily silent. I didn't have the nerve to look to the back (fear of laughter on my part) as I could envision the slack jaws and glazed stares of the people who had, just moments before, been happily reviewing the sports news of the weekend. This guy came in and in his own special "flux capacitor" way, took the air completely out of the moment. One of the riders engaged him in conversation and slowly the others built back up their own sports talk. I'm pretty sure this guy has no clue what a damper he is to basic bus chatter and no one would ever tell him. Next time, I've just got to look at their faces to see if they are as I envision. Maybe, though, I should just let the visualization linger - could be far more entertaining than reality. Rigorous polynomials? What the .....???? Whew - it's a lot for the 6am Monday bus.

20 October 2005


Pretty sure this is a repeater craft, but don't feel like archive diving today. As lively and full as the bus has been the last two days, it was quiet and boring today. Just a nice complement of regulars who remain stoic and still. Even the driver was low key. I really think it's that move toward the end of the week. I mean, we all are riding the 6 am bus. I get up at 4 am to make this happen and must assume others are rising fairly early, too. I don't stay up too late, but we're not looking at 8 or more hours of pillow talk here. I really think by the end of the week, we are sliding toward exhaustion and only the weekend pulls us back up to full energy. Maybe I should starting rating the bus energy level every day and then compare levels by weekday. Sheesh, I sound like a blasted researcher - gotta get a new job.

19 October 2005


Well crum - forgot to note the bus number today - had to carry my big duffel bag and a canvas and Dave was studying psychology - too many distractions. Not to mention it was 62 degrees and my little sweater didn't begin to keep me warm. Of course, the bus was on the late side today, so there was much hopping around the bus stop trying to keep the blood flowing - it was a discombobulated beginning to the day. No wonder I forgot to look for the number.

It was crowded again but didn't quite reach standing room. The 6am 66 has become the route of choice it appears. A young woman sitting next to me admired my purse. I've seen her on many trips and today she commented on the uniqueness of my bag. It's the leather one I bought at the Notting Hill street flea market in London and has a decidedly British flavor. I've had several comments on it. Keep this up and we'll all be doing lunch sometime.

The loud talking woman from yesterday was back on today. She and the driver were engaged in animated discussion from the second she got on the bus. She has a loud voice and with the Appalachian drawl, she's hard to miss. He's a talker, too, so they make quite a pair. Lots of very abrupt starts and stops. Hard to believe he's distracted by her conversation, but who knows? Remember, he had some erratic driving during the Tempe parade detour discussion - and what about that topic involves serious spans of attention? I really shouldn't comment, having never driven a bus. Wonder what tomorrow will bring.

18 October 2005


Definitely a new-to-the-blog bus today. Had crisp edges - maybe pretty new to the fleet. Holy moly was it a strange day on the bus. It started out fairly regular - usual beginning riders with one new addition. Each stop kept adding people until we were at SRO - simply unbelievable! This was the 6am bus - most people can't stand at that hour of the day, but the seats were full and the middle packed with people. What's going on in the universe?

A woman got on early (so she had the seat behind the driver) with a serious Tennessee/Kentucky accent - she would talk to anyone within earshot and some who weren't. Going on about her son and new daughter-in-law and new baby staying with her and her ex-husband (sleeping on the couch! of course!). After she regaled several people with the story, she whips out her cell phone (which I believe are really not a permitted use on the bus) and tells the story all over again to the unidentified person on the phone. I was two people away from her and could hear not only her, but the person to whom she was talking. Way too much activity for a 6 am bus. She started the phone conversation telling the person she was having a hot flash and just dying of the heat. This announcement went throughout the bus and even brought the conversation of the regulars in back to a screeching halt. TMI, TMI, TMI ... later in the conversation she said, "I know, Mama" so we all then knew who owned the loud voice on the other side of the conversation. It lasted almost the whole trip and I was struggling not to laugh. Wonder if she heard someone else conversing similarly if she would feel intruded upon? Probably listen with a seriously big ear and even offer comments, no doubt. Talk about center of the universe. Kind of a tilty start to the day.

17 October 2005


I lost track and forgot to cull the archives to see if #4123 is new to the blog. Feels new, but the gray cells are weak and I just don't recall. I don't think I've been on it before - I noticed handicap stickers on two windows where the seats lift up to accomodate wheelchairs and scooters. They stuck in my mind and I think I would have recalled them from before. It's the little things, you know.

Today was strange from the get go. First of all, Dave and I were together on the bus. Never had a co-rider so that was distracting. The bus got to the stop very early - I thought it was the 92 and shocked to see it was 66. Had to scramble around to get my card out. Then, we got to the stop on Baseline in front of McDonald's and the driver announced we were about 10 minutes ahead of schedule (really ?!?!?!?!) and if anyone wanted to get something from McDonald's, there would be time. He, of course, proceeded directly into MickeyD's. So we finally get going and a man pulls the cord for a stop and the driver went past it - the guy had to yell and the driver finally pulled over. Then, he was between "official" stops and stopped the bus to ask a woman who periodically rides if she wanted on ... apparently she said no as she didn't join us. I think the driver has more than a passenger/driver interest in this woman, so he's on the lookout for her. Might be nice to date a bus driver - always have a ride. Anyway, the rest of the trip to my stop was uneventful, but it felt like the universe had suffered a slight axial tilt - things just weren't as usual in an odd way. Be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

14 October 2005


Another new unit today - at least I think so. I didn't do an archive dive to verify, but the number is not familiar. Very fresh - no undercover Febreezing needed for this craft. Regular driver wasn't there and this was another one of those playing statue days. No noise. Absolute silence except for the computer lady voice announcing the cross streets and transfer lines. It was almost like a Twilight Zone episode - would have thought I had lost hearing if it wasn't for the computer lady. I guess the Friday morning bus is bound to be a compilation of tired people. I'm usually happy that it's Friday, end of the week, but I can feel my energy level has lowered as the week progressed. Perhaps I'm not alone. I wouldn't want to say we were a bunch of zombies, but damn near.

13 October 2005


So where has she been, you ask? Took a week off to get ready for my solo gallery exhibition - needed to do real driving. I've hauled a lot of stuff on the bus, but a whole show's worth was pushing the limit. Missed the bus, although this past Sunday, the whole fam (Ralphie, Jennifer, GramGram, Marie, Leweezy and me) took the bus to ASU to see the gallery. It was hilarious and I'm pretty sure the driver and other passengers breathed a huge sigh of relief when we got off. At one point Sarah and Mike were exchanging the sounds of French animals that they were taught by Miss Houck. Somehow, according to Miss H, a pig in France makes a different noise than a pig in the United States. It was a fascinating conversation and held us and the rest of the bus in awe.

It was revealed on the ride home that this was Liza's first ever bus trip - what's up with that? Poor thing was deprived of one of life's most interesting pleasures. I think she enjoyed the event for the most part - probably wondering if marrying into this family was such a wise decision. I know we appeared to be good-hearted people, but she didn't know about oddities like bus rides and French animal noises. Come to think of it, though .... I believe the idea to ride the bus was hers!!!!!!

This morning we had #4131 - new to the blog, not new to the fleet. It was in keeping with the other buses in the 4130 class - good, solid craft. Driver greeted me warmly and seemed almost speechless when I explained about the show. Not sure if it was my explanation or presence. Wish the latter, but figure the former. Was a very, very quiet ride this morning until the end. Had my tackle box that I use to hold needles, floss, etc., and some guy asked me if I liked to fish. I said yes, but this wasn't full of fishing tackle. I popped it open and he saw the threads and went, ooooohhhhhh ..... crafts! I could have beaned him. He asked if I was a teacher (there goes that gray hair thing) and I said no, an ASU art student. He said he was an ASU student, too. As I got off the bus he told me to have a fun day with my ASU art. He's a little off center, and I think a little bit christian. Oh well, makes a bus story and that's what this blog is all about.

29 September 2005


Whew! another new bus today. I need to develop a little chart that rides along the blog to keep track of all these buses. Since it's grown to archival quantity, no easy task to see if we're riding a repeater.

Today was our regular driver, back in full form. I had my screens and that always elicits comments from him. I don't sit in the very front seat near him as they are quite high and my feet don't touch the floor - makes me feel like a wobbly Weeble in that seat, so I end up in the middle of the bus. At the beginning of the ride, when he talks and asks questions about my art stuff, it's just fine. But today, the bus kept filling and he kept talking and asking. In the past, he's stopped after we had a buffer of people between us, but today he just kept asking questions. I felt like I was giving a class on screen print and design, almost yelling across a crowded room kind of thing. I guess the bus is his daily world and for me it's just a moment of time in the whole day. He's very comfortable announcing and talking in front of strangers, but I'm not so comfortable. I can't not be polite, however, and end up answering his questions. I don't really mind and appreciate his interest, but I miss not being able to have my mental bus talk turned on. I have to concentrate on our conversation and can't be observing and thinking as well. Didn't realize how much it means until I really didn't have it today.

28 September 2005

and #4151, again

Wow, this blog has gone to archives! Have to open them to see if we have repeats on some bus numbers. This one, 4151, is a repeat, but from a fairly recent trip. No odor today! No party animal, this craft. No undercover de-odoring necessary.

A lot of interesting new people riding today. Same time, same route, you just never know what you're gonna get. Regular driver seemed a bit more chipper, but still didn't engage in much conversation. Perhaps he was putting on his best for the new riders.

Sat next to a young black man who had a bandana on his head, tied underneath his hair in the back. I think he had dreads, but what I took to be hair coming from the back looked like 2-3" wide pieces of beautiful brown felt. I'm 99% sure it was his hair, and it took massive amounts of control to keep from touching it. He didn't seem like someone I could talk to - would have loved to say, "Pardon me, but can I feel your hair?" I think he might have decked me. It was so neat, though, and so wide and so flat and so textury. Geez I would have loved to touch it. My tactile side was in high gear with that stuff. It's the same tactile thing that gets me in trouble in museums. Gotta learn to look and not touch. Never expected such a compelling tactile experience on the bus.

27 September 2005


A new bus today! Yay! Although .... it had the faint aroma of a poker-smoker event, just like yesterday's bus. Yucko, I think the seat upholstery picks up odors - wonder if I could smuggle a bottle of Febreeze onto the bus and do some subtle spraying on mornings that have an after-scent? Hard to picture subtle spraying right in the middle of the bus, but perhaps a few discreet trigger squeezes as I shield the container with my body. Sounds like counterespionage or something really exciting instead of de-odorizing the bus. Oh well, gives me something to think about as I ride.

Regular driver was back today. Asked if he had the day off yesterday and he said no, he had a doctor's appointment. Somehow, his response didn't feel like it answered my question, but probably not worthy of a lot of contemplation. He was very, very quiet and I heard a few muffled coughs from him. I wonder if he got something from the flu guy.

Very, very, very quiet today.

26 September 2005

and ....... #4136 - again

This vehicle does appear often on this route - gotta see if I can find out how they decide which bus goes where. Size of bus and number of passengers on the route certainly determine if you get either the small, standard bus or the big, whopping accordion doubles. Can just imagine what stories come off those craft - whew! So many passengers, so many tales.

Today the regular driver wasn't there - I think Monday must be a regular day off for him. Quite a few people on when I boarded and it smelled like the day after an all-night poker extravaganza, replete with cigars, cigarettes and brew - whew! Not sure where that came from - maybe the replacement driver - whatever, it was nasty. I've been on 4136 a lot recently and it doesn't regularly smell like that - must have had a difficult weekend.

Conversation in the back of the bus centered mostly on the continuing miserable performance of the Arizona Cardinals - saddest act in the NFL. The guy sitting next to me (formerly known as the "flu guy" in a previous post) suddenly joined the conversation. He blamed all the Cardinal woes on owner Bill Bidwell and he used an astonishingly high decibel level to make this pronouncement. I don't believe anyone in the back would have disagreed, but he approached the topic aggressively and loudly and effectively shut down the conversation. Not sure if he felt he had to yell to be heard or just felt so strongly about the issue. It is just football, after all. I love football, but that was way too much adrenaline and blood pressure for an early Monday morning bus ride. Sadly, the conversation in back turned to concrete pipe and casting - kind of a snooze after the football discussion. Kind of wish the guy still had the flu....

24 September 2005


Today is Saturday, so nothing about taking the bus was normal. Needed to go work in the studio at asu, so bus was the ride of choice. The trip to was uneventful - interesting collection of people, but nothing of singular significance. The ride home was a different scenario.

I got on at the usual place. A short ride south and the bus stopped for a lone woman at the next stop. The door opened, she stepped up into the bus and immediately gets in the driver's face, yelling, "That son of a bitch just drove by and didn't stop for me - I'm sick and tired of your f**king behavior ..." and went off on a bit(?) of a tangent. The driver, wisely, didn't say a word, and once her steam had burst she stomped on into the bus and landed on a seat. She removed a cell phone from her purse and made a call. The bus was noisy so she couldn't hear and she screamed into the phone as if her yelling somehow made her able to hear better. It was apparently not a friendly call - seemed to have something to do with driving or a car or insurance or something. She ended the call abruptly and sat and cried loudly for a few seconds. A woman who had been sitting next to her kept creeping away toward the front of the bus - anxiously looking for her stop.

While all this is going on, there's a man sitting next to me, very front of the bus, who is loudly announcing the cross streets and transfer lines. This is usually a function of the driver or the computerized lady voice - don't know if this guy was a bus driver on holiday or a seriously regular passenger. The driver and he talked, so I'm going with the driver-on-holiday theory. The angry phone lady yells up at the driver, "Does this bus go to Guadalupe?" He politely said, "yes it does." She moves to the front seat across from me and I can see she's a bit unkempt. I was thinking, maybe, given her agitated stated, she'd just run away from a domestic situation. We turned on Guadalupe but she didn't pull the cord to stop the bus. The way she'd asked the driver, I was sure she'd be off as soon as we got on it. We passed the first stop and she pulled the cord. When the driver came to the stop, she starts to get off and turns around, asking the driver if the bus follows the same route back? He told her yes, and she could cross the street and catch the bus in front of the high school. She then said, what number is this bus anyway and he told her, 66. As she takes her final step off the bus, the driver say, "Thank you for riding Tempe in Motion and have a Valley Metro day!" He closed the door and took off. He and the other guy start laughing and I'm giggling, too, as I never heard a driver say that before. He then told me he just wanted to aggravate her a bit since she dove on the bus, ragging on him about something some other driver supposedly did. The other guy told me he was pretty sure she had been drinking, which would explain a lot of her behavior. Hardly ever a dull moment on the bus.

22 September 2005


Today I took the 6:30 bus instead of 6 am - for reasons not easy to describe. Anyway, the bus was 4151 and it, too, is an outstanding piece of buscraft. Same solid, dependable feel as 4132. A guy with a bike got on at my stop - never said a word. This driver was very nice - the crowd was very quiet. Hard to say who is "regular" on it, but it just felt like there wasn't as much community to these riders as there is on the 6am route. Not unfriendly, just not friendly.

Had a comment on Tuesday's post. The commentator noted that riding the bus as a child was particularly satisfying after a lot of walking or standing, especially during inclement conditions. It invoked the mental thought, "The bus is here. We're saved!" An interesting counterpoint to some who find the different characters on the bus to be terrifying and just wishing the ride would be over. The innocent eyes and thoughts of a child. No matter how long I ride, I find I get a little bitty adrenaline boost when the bus comes rolling to a stop - I know deep down there's mental language saying, "I did it right and it worked! I got myself to the right place at the right time and by gosh, the bus arrived - it worked!" Must not have much faith in systems.

20 September 2005


New craft today - #4132. New to my ride, not new to the fleet, however. It actually had quite a bit of that patina of wear, but ran like a champ. Surpasses 4136 as the bus of choice for now.

Well as lively as the ride was yesterday, today was silent. The driver asked me if asu offered any culinary classes and when I said I didn't think anything like that was available (???) that was about the extent of our conversation. It was quite a full group today, but no talking - none, nada, zip. I think it was the quietest ride ever. Perhaps too much adrenaline yesterday and there was nothing left for today. Almost like we were playing "statue."

One small interesting note - at Tempe High School (which is a pullout, not just on-street, traffic-blocking loading), the driver announced that he was early, we needed to wait, and if anyone wanted to smoke a cigarette, there was time. He didn't have a ciggie, so assume he's a non-smoker, but no one got off and took advantage of his offer. I found that encouraging - there are definitely smokers on the bus (the bushy haired lady wasn't there today), but no one seemed interested in lighting up. With gasoline at $198 a gallon and gawd knows what cigarettes cost, people might be slowing down on the vices. Ha!

Very, very quiet today. Maybe, just maybe, everyone was sleeping with their eyes open, or maybe we really were playing statue and I just didn't get the memo.

19 September 2005

#4136 repeats

Good old 4136 - the bus of discriminating riders. It actually has been the best of the lot, including the ride home buses, which I have not yet begun to describe.

Bus was alive with idle chat and deep conversation today. At 6 AM, sun barely on the horizon, and it was just short of electric. The back of the bus was seriously discussing the airline industry - I believe at least one of the regulars works for America West.

The driver was very talkative today - wonder if he sets the tone? I'm the 4th stop from the beginning of the route, so there's enough time to get things going, but the full complement hasn't boarded yet. I was carrying a canvas for a new painting assignment and the driver was quite interested in it. He's the regular guy, former LA printing pirate, and we have discussed screen printing at length. He mentioned ceramics and I thought he was going to say he'd always wanted to try it. He then asked if I'd thought about all the money I could make by creating and selling ceramic figures and I realized that creating money is his main creative interest in the arts. Why would I have thought a cloak-and-dagger, knock-off screen printer from LA would do artwork for anything but money? Silly me. Told him I liked fiber better than ceramics and since he couldn't think of an immediate money-making scheme for fiber, he asked me how my weekend had been. I said we'd had an outstanding weekend, football resultswise and we had a brief discussion about asu and the cardinals and the bengals. It was a pleasant beginning to the day.

A man soon got on that the driver apparently knew and I was left to finish the ride in studied silence. The man, the driver and another man got into a very involved discussion about parades in Tempe, the resulting bus detours and traffic management - I didn't know Tempe was awash in parades and wouldn't have thought it could be such an in-depth conversational topic, much less an adrenaline pumper, but by the time I got off, the three were having quite an animated discussion - the driver was almost forgetting to drive or stop. Who knew Monday morning on the bus could be so full of energy?

16 September 2005

4136 ... again

Ah, today was a repeat day. Good old 4136 - ran smoothly and only a few minor squeaks. I'm not sure the driver trusts its brakes, though. He approached every stop with a lot of pumping action - like driving on ice - lots of little and not-so-little jolts for the riders. I know they have a time schedule, but can't figure out the driving pattern. Sometimes they do the bat-out-of-hell thing between stops and other times I know I could walk faster. Bus driver thinking: "Whoa, I'm late, better speed it up ....... yow, I'm early, better slow it down." Except sometimes it's speed, speed, slow or it can be slow, speed, slow or slow, slow, speed, or you get the idea.

Speaking of speed, last night's ride was interesting. A woman on a scooter boarded the bus at Tempe High School. The scooter boarding required the driver to get out of his seat, make the seated passengers move so he could put the wheelchair seat area up, put down the little ramp, wait for the scooter to drive onto the ramp and elevate to bus level, then wait while she got the scooter in place. It was a lot like parallel parking a car, except she did it in about 3000 little back and forth movements - nearly took out one passenger's baby toe. Anyway, once the scooter was in place, the driver buckled it in (notice the passengers aren't securely strapped, but the scooter is...), he returned to his seat and we were on the road again.

The middle of the bus was now full of standing people who were formerly sitting where the scooter was now securely buckled. The lady on the scooter yelled to the driver, "I want off at Jack-in-the-Box". The driver said, "10-4" but the lady either didn't hear or didn't recognize 10-4 as an acknowledgement. Again she screamed, "I want off at the Jack-in-the-Box" and this time the driver said, "OK". It is now apparently a hearing situation because, for the third time, the lady hollered, "I want off at the Jack-in-the-Box!" At this point, everyone on the bus yelled, "He said OK!"

Now for the speed part - the Jack-in-the-Box where she wanted off is the bus stop located one mile south of the bus stop where she got on. It is a regular stop and all she needed to do was push the button - still not sure what all the yelling was about. Anyway, we stopped and the whole procedure was repeated in reverse, including the 3000 tiny maneuvers to get out of the scooter parking space. The ramp was lowered and the woman and scooter zoomed away, up the JIB driveway. It was almost a cloud of dust and a hearty hi-ho Silver kind of thing. While the driver was putting the bus back together, one of the passengers commented that those scooters can go 11-15 mph - I don't doubt it having watched her blaze off into the sunset. What was apparent to all of us was that in the time spent getting on and off the bus, she could have driven her scooter the one mile from the bus stop to the JIB and been inside enjoying a burger and fries before the bus made it there. I wondered about battery power, but those 3000 maneuvers had to take some juice, so it seemed to be a wash, powerwise.

Oh well, everyone was kind and non-complaining and patient (except maybe a little irritation during the yelling part) and it made for another bus story.

15 September 2005


And today we had #4130. It was a quiet running craft, but something was up with the engine. Seemed like it wanted to stall, so he kept the brake on while accelerating at stops, and then when he let off the brake, we'd zoom forward with a g-force effect. Lots of rocking and rolling among the passengers - the driver has the wheel to hold onto, but we're left to our own devices. I've started clenching alternate gluteal muscles to help stabilize through abrupt starts and stops. Who knows? Might end up with buns of steel from all this bus riding.

No exciting passenger incidents this morning. There is a semi-regular woman who gets on and she's a smoker - the smell precedes her. Today she sat next to me and it was particularly intense. She has lots of long, very bushy blond hair - looks like it isn't very well maintained - and I wonder how much of the smoke smell is caught up in the hair. Being warm weather time, it can't be too trapped in heavy clothing, so it must be the hair. Wonder if the smoke smell oozes out of the skin? The body collects tars and nicotine - wonder if some of that smoke smell actually comes out of the pores? Sure am wondering a lot today.

14 September 2005


Today's bus was #4136 - much quieter and smoother than yesterday - didn't look any newer, just seemed more mechanically sound. When I got on, the driver commented that I was wearing a little jacket today. Very observant fellow. He's the one who saw my screen frames and said, "I see someone's doing silk screening." The frames were just the plain wood, no mesh, no tape, and yet as I got on the bus he observed just enough to recognize what they were. He used to do it when he lived in LA - a screen printing pirate of sorts. Said they would set up and print concert t-shirts and make a bundle. It was knock-off stuff and not exactly legitimate - well not legitimate at all, really. He said how creative they had to be to get it to work in a house or motel room. Said they could take it down quick - almost sounded like a meth lab, but without the horrific consequences. Would be interesting to trace his route from pirate printer in LA to bus driver in Phoenix - bet there are some interesting details in that map.

A guy got on who has been an off-and-on rider - heard him tell the driver he'd been fighting the flu bug for a couple of weeks and just couldn't shake it. Made me think about all the illness potential that a bus could harbor. Everyone grabs the silver poles to steady themselves as the bus rocks and rolls during starts and stops. Potential there for a virtual bacterial playground. Just another good reason to wash the hands before eating. Sneezing and coughing stuff is inevitable in a crowd - just hope people have the good sense to cover up those occasional body explosions.

The flu guy was saying his father goes to Mexico and buys him bottles of penicillin. Said when he feels bad, he pops a few penicillin and makes it through the day. Not knowing the fellow, hard to say if this is fact or fiction. If fact, wonder if he realizes the potential harm by indulging in whimsical use of antibiotics? He is well-spoken and appears bright and intelligent - of course, this country is full of those kind of people and look who got elected president - enough, I swore I would not get political in this blog. Anyway, if he's really telling the truth, he could be in a serious sweat if a time comes that he really needs antibiotic therapy. Oh well, keeping my opinions to myself.

That's the nice thing about a blog. You can just opine for pages - not really keeping thoughts close, but not indulging in those unpleasant in-your-face confrontations, either. All the world can be an editorial writer.

13 September 2005

On the bus

Bus was very low key this morning - 6 am, same as always, but the energy level was low. The bus was making a lot of loud, clanking noises - kind of like what you hear on an airplane when the landing gear goes up or down. This kept happening during high speed braking - figured our landing gear would just quit and we'd have to walk the rest of the way. Perhaps the silence on the bus was a unified effort to keep the bus running. You've got to figure that everyone is hearing the noises and most are probably thinking along the same lines -bus breakdown, what do we do. That should produce a collective, unspoken bus prayer - Please don't let the bus break down. All that energy and karma being sent to the mechanical parts; it has to keep it going.

There was a young man on the bus when I got on. Had his bicycle helmet and was reading the paper. The bus took its usual right turn onto Rural and stopped for a passenger. The young man looked up, appeared startled, and asked the driver what bus is this? The driver said 66 and the young man announced, I need to get to Kyrene and Guadalupe. The driver told him he should get off, cross the street and catch the 92 - it would take him to Kyrene. The young man, in a not-so-very-friendly tone of voice, said "I'll just take my bike and ride there!" So what was that about? He was the dipstick that got on the wrong bus, or at least didn't bother to check which route he needed. Such arrogance - as if the whole bus and route were his to demand and order about at his whim. Assume we won't see him on the route again.

Since there was so much clatter of bus parts, think I'll start recording the bus number - just curious how often the same one is used on the route and if it's noisy every time. Today we had #4133.

12 September 2005

Bus Blogging

Starting my second month as a "bus rider" and totally enjoying the freedom from driving hassles. Nice to arrive at work, road rage free. There is a bus culture but it's not like any other group wherein we participate. On a single ride, to or from work, it appears that every ethnic and socio-economic class is represented for at least a portion of the ride. Whether finances, driving record or just personal choice influence the reason we're on the bus, the bus is a great equalizer. I see more good manners than bad and in the small, sometimes hot and crowded confines of the bus, it restores my faith in basic human civility. Why can we be so kind and respectful on the bus and such raving assholes on the highway? What happens behind the wheel? Save that for another time.

I love mornings on the bus best. Everyone is sparkly clean and the scent of showers and soap and shampoo drift lightly through the air as each new passenger boards. A fresh start for a new day. The memory of sleep still lingers in the eyes and calm seems to be the order of the day. No time yet for agitation to begin stirring up adrenaline. The highy charged individual seems very out of place in the serenity of the morning ride.

Today a young man asked the driver if this bus would take him to his destination - the driver said it was a beginning and that he would explain the rest of the route if the young man would board the bus. Once on, the young man was obviously anxious and forgot to pay for the ride. The driver called back several times and had to remind him that money was due. The young man's anxiety distracted him, but eventually he walked forward with the money and received instructions and his transfer slip from the driver. Ours is a small bus and every transaction is easily observed by all on board. While nothing was said, there was a strong sense that anything to remedy the young man's discomfort or the driver's need for payment was available from all the other passengers if necessary. There's an interesting dynamic and energy on the bus.

Bus stories, you gotta love 'em.