“Let’s go, Let’s go!” the big-bellied bus driver shouts at me. “Just swipe your card and let’s go.”
He thinks I am one of those irresponsible Cal Poly students who waits until the last moment to catch the bus. He doesn’t know that I missed my usual bus because the RTA bus broke down on the way to San Luis.
Driving to school the bus driver is jovial.
“I am never late,” he tells a bus driver in training, “Sometimes I run five minutes late, the most I’ve ever run late is twenty minutes.”
At each stop he has a grin on his face as the bus fills with more and more students.
“All right folks, back it up,” he speaks into the bus microphone. “I know that some of you are boys and some of are girls, but you don’t have cooties. Take your backpacks off and squeeze.”
Finally we get to school, and he laughs as a bike rider cuts him off.
“A bus is never early, and a bus is never late,” he says to the students. “A bus always arrives precisely on time. You know what that is from? It’s from the Lord of the Rings movie. You know, when Gandalf is trying to be serious, but the Hobbits just start laughing at him.”
He starts going on and on about the movies making the whole bus laugh.
Later that evening I wait for the RTA bus to take me home. I see Route Nine in the distance and am prepared to flag him down if it is not AJ driving. AJ knows who I am. He will stop for me. He likes cigarettes. I like cookies.
“Hello,” he says.
“Hi,” I respond as I get on the bus and hand him my punch pass. “Could I get a transfer to the ten, please?”
“What if I said no?” he asked.
“I guess I wouldn’t get one then.”
We get to the transfer station and as is his custom, AJ turns off the bus and gets out.
“How are you doing?” he asks.
“Pretty good. You dropped me off with enough time to eat my other cookie before the ten gets here.”
“And I have enough time to smoke my cigarette,” he says smiling. “Heck, I’ve got ten minutes. I could smoke two.”
“Yes,” I say smiling. “You could smoke two.”