26 June 2009

the bilingual bus

Last couple of days brings a new addition to the bus announcement system - a male voice providing information in Spanish. The lady voice that announces the next stop and route transfers still vocalizes. The new, bilingual announcements seem to include more topical items. For example, on July 1, rates increase on the buses and light rail and that seems to be the current announcement focus. Interestingly, the English and Spanish versions don't come back-to-back. I heard the Spanish version at least 3 times before ever hearing it in English. One time, I heard the words "Valley Metro" in the middle of the Spanish announcement and never heard those words in, what I presumed to be, the English counterpart. Since my Spanish vocabulary is almost non-existent, the conspiracy theorist in me wants to know why I didn't hear valley metro in both languages? What did I miss?

Informational signs posted on the buses have always been in both languages and it never made sense that the lady voice info came only in English. Oh well, something for me to ponder and, maybe, I can sharpen my ear and learn a bit more Spanish. Riding the bus really does offer a variety of educational opportunities.

10 June 2009

get off the bus!!!

Ever since I started regularly taking the 8:30am 66N, the driver has waged a war against loud mp3 players. In this iPod world, many riders get on the bus, player in hand and earbuds/phones/plugs planted in their ears. Occasionally, the ear appliance doesn't effectively block the sound and others can hear a little (or not so little in some cases) bit of music emanating from the device. Signs on the buses and light rail indicate Valley Metro's policy does not permit leakage loud enough to disturb others - fair enough, as long as we can agree about what level equals "disturb".

With a very few exceptions, I never hear the players about which the driver complains. Sitting in back, perhaps the usual bus noises override the leaking music. However, the driver seems to have the aural capacity of Superwoman - she hears everything - and today the **** hit the fan. A young woman and young man boarded at Southern, both with headphones in situ, players in hand. Once seated, the driver turned around and said she didn't know which, but one of their players was too loud and to turn it down. She drove on and around Alameda, once again told them to lower the volume. The girl said she didn't think it was her player, but she would turn it down some more. The young man never acknowledged the driver (maybe he couldn't hear her???). I never heard anything coming from either one, but, whatever.

At Broadway, the driver again turned and told them she could hear the music and to turn it down. At this point the girl removed the earphones and put the player away. Again, the young man didn't acknowledge the driver in any way. The bus moved on and stopped at the light at Mill and Apache - 60 yards from the next stop (mine!). The driver turned around and yelled at the young man to turn down the music, she could still hear it. He leaned forward and told her he didn't have to do anything, he had headphones on and wasn't bothering anyone. He proceeded to tell the driver that she had no right to speak to him or anyone that way, she was a public servant, paid to just drive the bus and he could do anything he wanted. While offering his comments, the light changed and she drove to the stop. She yelled at the young man to get off the bus and he said he would, it was his stop, and he was going to call and report her. She just kept yelling (more like screaming) for him to get off the bus. A girl in front got off, but the young man blocked my exit. He lunged forward as he yelled at the driver and I finally timed it to catch him mid-lunge, jump past him and out the open door. As I walked down the sidewalk I could still hear them screaming at each other.

The driver's campaign against loud music continually mystifies me, especially since I rarely hear the offending music. Her behavior about it almost always borders on the unnecessarily unpleasant and rude. The young man showed the narcissism of his generation - I appreciate he didn't like the driver's approach, but his arrogance in assuming a right to do anything he wants -- sounds like his future plans could include a job on Wall Street.

A very unpleasant start to the day for both of them.

01 June 2009


Two trips on the 66 today - going and coming to ASU. This morning, only four other riders joined me; the airport Super Shttle gets more passengers. First summer session classes started today (I think) and I expected more riders. Perhaps my timing doesn't mesh with summer students.

Riding home, I shared the top back of the bus with two large couples who occupied over half of the upper back area. They intertwined with one another, spreading legs, arms and butts all over the back and side bench seats. Their postures implied area ownership, but I braved their potential wrath and sat opposite, smiled and whipped out my knitting. They never moved, never said a word to me or each other, just sprawled widely and got off the bus around Alameda. What a controlled display of body/mouth non-movement. Wondered about a drug-induced haze, but they popped up and got off promptyly at their stop -- not easily accomplished while under the influence.

The Arizona summer arrived with the usual blast of outside heat and inside freeze. A direct mathematical situation occurs - the hotter the outside, the colder the air conditioning. It makes life difficult dressing for outside travel and sitting inside. I decided I need a lightweight, summer shawl; something to toss over my shoulders or legs when indoors, but easily carried while outdoors. Today's image is a picture of my shawl-in-progress, taken on the bus. I actually wanted to get a picture of the sprawlers but couldn't get the knitting and their oversized torsos in the same picture. Oh well.