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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Small Gratitudes, or It's Not Just the Smiles to the Gallon


My new bus route, in terms of characters, is headed by the bus driver herself.  A sturdy person with a blond crew cut, she is a woman for whom the world holds many friends.

“Good morning,” she beams at me.  “Oooh, I love that shirt.”

And I, as untethered as I feel in the morning, beam back.  “Thank you,” I croak.  These are my first words of the day, and I smile as I take a seat.

Thank you.

“Barb!” the bus driver shouts into her rear-view mirror.  “Where were we when I had to back up that articulated bus?”

Barb, up there in one of the side-ways facing seats, chuckles appreciatively.  “That was at Ridgedale.  What a mess!  ‘Member that?  Cuz I ‘member that!  Lord, but you did a lot of backing up that year!  Huh! Huh! Huh!”

The bus driver, whose name I have not caught, smiles up into the mirror.  “A lot of backing up?  What in the world are you talking – ooh, you’re right.  There was that time they blocked off Nicollet a block into the run –“

“ – and the time that drunk woman laid down in the street –“

“ – and that one time – well, we never did find out what all those cop cars were about, did we?”

Barb shakes her head.  “No, ma’am, we did not.”

The ladies at the front of the bus, all of whom seem to have ridden together for years, nod knowingly, and Barb, playing to her audience, lights up.  “That was the year of the backing up!  Oh, yes.  Oh, yes.  Baby, we was all backin’ up!”

The other women join in:  We was all backin’ up!  That’s right!  She can handle herself, yes she can!  Backed that baby right up!

The bus driver grins, her attention in front of her as she maneuvers through the downtown transit station.  “Oh, you hush now!  Nobody wants to hear about how we got all backed up!”

The front of the bus laughs, and I suddenly realize, my bus ride, having gone from 20 minutes to seven, is already over.

I stand and walk to the front.

The bus driver, her face a study in warmth, looks up, beams at me.  “You have a good day now!”

“Thank you,” I say, for the second time that day.  “Thank you.  I will.”

54 comments:

Shelly said...

You know, she's right. Sometimes there's a year or two of backing up before we can move forward-

Symdaddy said...

The only think that backs up around here is the toilet!

I can reverse, now that I think of it, into any space,large or small.

But ask me to reverse in a straight line ... uh-uh!

R. Jacob said...

the morning sounds. pouring of the coffee, wheel over the chair to the computer, machine comes to life, scroll to the link, click on the page, and say "good morning Pear, my you look pretty today!"

ray

Pearl said...

Shelly, you know, I hadn't thought of that. VERY NICE.

Sym, the bus drivers have mad skillz. :-)

Pearl said...

rj, I love that. Love that you start your day here. :-)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

There is nothing nicer than starting your day with a "thank you", it can only get better and better from there. And look at you, already sharing the warmth. Thank you Pearl.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, bus drivers are in control of where you are going physically , but sometimes and somehow they know what needs to be said emotionally at just the right time. Backing up from dreary, the bland, and change --and changing direction-- isn't the worst idea at times, even in Minnesota. ":)

L-Kat said...

Shelly makes a good point! I like your new bus driver. She seems to have some spunk! My first words today were "What do you want?" My brother called me very early this morning. I've gotten more cordial as the day has progressed.

Lynn said...

That is a WONDERFUL story. I love the long friendships suggested by the "backing up" conversation. Lovely.

Pearl said...

Delores, I think I'm just starting to realize that. :-)

Raymond, the good ones are an absolute blessing. The mood on that early-morning bus is light and friendly and is a wonderful way to transition into the work day.

L-Kat, Shelly's a bright gal. :-) And honestly, saying "what do you want?" to your brother is, so many times, just the right thing to say. :-)

Pearl said...

Lynn, I think there are relationships all around us that we never think of that, once realized, lead us to consider our role(s) in the lives of others.

The Jules said...

Lovely.

And kudos on wearing a shirt today. That's etiquette that is.

sage said...

A seven minute bus ride, it's hard to get any reading done in that little of time (which is why I always liked taking the bus, not that any buses run out here in the hitherlands). But it sounds like you are busy recording conversations! :)

Susan in the Boonies said...

Oh, I believe I like your new driver!

esbboston said...

The we's on the bus go sound and sound.

That gentleman's lady said...

What a fun driver! I love the feeling of being part of things like this. Like one day, some day, the bus driver will turn to you and say "Pearl! Remember the time there was a cow in the road and I had to get out and shoo it off before we could continue on, and instead of leaving, it tried to get in the bus with us!"

Ok well, you might not get a cow in the road, but ya get the picture....

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

She sounds like the bright spot in a person's day--I love people who are generous with complements.

Eva Gallant said...

My kids chipped in and bought me a back up camera for my car; I think that says it all.

NotesFromAbroad said...

Oh God bless her ! We all need a sunny smile in the morning to start the day off right.

That said ... there is no one in my house that gets one from me ... just in case you think I smile in the morning .. god forbid .. sheesh.

NotesFromAbroad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mandy_Fish said...

I like this community of transport you've found.

bill lisleman said...

I suspect that bus driver enjoys her job (even the backing up). Wasn't there a JLo song about backing up?

Silliyak said...

Why not start each day with a self affirmation? "It's going to be ok" "Damn you look hot" "it's getting better" Even if you don't believe it initially eventually you absorb it. Try It!

Joyful Things said...

My gramma always said that if you start off someone's day on a happy note they will carry that through the day and God willing, it will come back to you. Thank goodness for your bus driver and thank goodness the ride is short as a cheery demeanor can be like fingernails on a blackboard some days.

Lola Rouge ...the mom said...

I quit my job today...... but this post made it all better, for today at least. The great thing about backing up is eventually you are moving forward again. Your mind is amazing Pearl.

Cheryl said...

How differently your day would have gone if you'd had a grumpy bus driver. She's to be commended for brightening the day of so many people, particularly yours.
For now, you've brightened ours!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

What an awesome tale! Makes me smiley and happy all over. And I loves me a good bus driver - my mom was one for most of her life!

Douglas said...

7 minutes, huh? Will you have time to take notes?

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! A nice bus ride? I've never managed one. I had a girlfriend once who liked to ride the bus into town with me, tho I suspect she'd have just been as happy on her own. It didn't last. Anyway, glad to hear the trip is brief and pleasant! Indigo x

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Well, see that, Pearlie? Your bus ride is much improved! Nice ladies, talkin', greeting you...no more crackheads and 'Juicy' rear-ends for you, lady! Nothin' but class, now!!

jenny_o said...

I'm just realizing that I've gotten grumpier as my stress level increases. It's time to remember to be more chipper. You never know who is feeling low and needs raised up with a kind word or a cheery smile. Thank you for this and have a good day, Missy :)

Belle said...

It is wonderful how a kind word, a smile and a cheerful heart can make our day better. God bless.

The Elephant's Child said...

I've been worrying a bit on your behalf. I love your new busload of companions, and suspect that they may be a gift. And how nice that the bus driver could start your day by complimenting you. Wonderful woman.

Gigi said...

One of the ladies where I stop to get a morning kick-in-the-pants drink is like that. Every time I see her she makes me smile. Every single time. She must be related to your bus driver.

And Shelley? I'm TOTALLY printing out your comment because I need that reminder.

Joanne said...

My goodness. You certainly used to be on the wrong bus!

Ms Sparrow said...

Here's to cheery morning people! May they live long and prosper!

Friko said...

Makes the ride a pleasure.

joeh said...

I could never understand how most of the transit people I know are surly and sour.

It is much easier to be friendly and starts the day off right for everyone

Cranky Old Man

Laraine Eddington said...

My son is in Alaska driving bus for cruisers, who come wobbling on arthritic legs after leaving the ship. I love your bus adventures.

ThreeOldKeys said...

my dad was my elementary school busdriver.

he was a good sport about the whole bus singing "Found a Peanut" and "Jenny Jenny Bo Benny, banana-fana Bo Fenny ..." etc.

we would do EVERYbody's first name, then last name, and sometimes the middle names too.

and my bus driver dad never cracked a smile or a frown when we giggled through "Marty Marty bo Barty, banana-fana fo Farty ..."

we had the same kids on the bus year after year. everybody knew everybody. i suggest that, before you end your short sojourn on that route, you lead a rousing sing-along.

then the bus women can reminisce for years about that new girl who they'd thought was so quiet.

consider it a contribution to the community.

mary i said...

May I borrow your bus driver? Thank you Pearl (Pear tee hee :)for sharing and making me smile...

Linda O'Connell said...

Looks like your new route is going to be a good one and the characters will be colorful in a good way. Youtell your driver hello from St. Louis. MO

ellen abbott said...

seems to me that if nothing else, this change in your life is definitely going to provide you with new material.

Amber Star said...

I've got to go back and read what has happened to your bus ride. I've been so busy these past weeks and no computer while they were laying flooring for DAYS! Now I find you are on another bus with other people. If this lady is going to be your driver she's a good one.

Selma said...

A little bit of gratitude goes a long way and does set you up nicely for the rest of the day. There should be more of it, in my opinion!

Old Bitter Balls said...

I always had you figured as someone who often rides a short bus.

Tempo said...

It's good to see you managed to find us some more city weirdos to be thankful not to know..

the walking man said...

Pearl now you make me wish we had a functioning bus system in Detroit...we have buses but not ones that run right (or left,straight or back or on time) and not that many of them.

CarrieBoo said...

She's a gem. Most bus drivers I've seen like to drive off before you can get on. Wonderful story.

Roses said...

My goodness, she's chirpy.

Not sure I could face that without at least 3 cups of coffee.

But what a great way to start the day.

River said...

The cameraderie on that bus sounds wonderful.
I get to work now by catching two buses and on each there is nothing but silence as people sit and stare anywhere but at each other, with more than a few reading either books, kindles, or iphones. We're a grumpy bunch in the mornings. The home buses? Just as grumpy as we're all tired and just want to get there.

Diane said...

My Dad always said that 'no one needs to know what kind of a day you've had'. Keep your smile in place and try to improve someone else's day. I've never regretted his advice. Ever.

NellieVaughn said...

I am not sure if someone has mentioned this yet, but there was a very famous rap song by the name of "Back That Thang Up," which introduced the world to Lil' Wayne. I always thought it was about a woman's back side, but I think it may be about this bus driver and her bus.

Shea Goff said...

Thank you, my bus driver Pearl. This made me smile.