It’s Wednesday, August 27. I caught the 0930 bus because I had to go to HQ at Metro Boulevard and teach a class. Bus driver greets me with, “You don’t have to pay…”
“What?” I ask as I scan my ‘go to’ card. Apparently, he recognizes my uniform and makes some assumptions.
“Yeah…I really need your help, so I didn’t want you to pay.”
“Okay…but the government pays for my metro pass, so whatever. What do you need help with?”
“I was called in at the last minute to drive this route..I’ve never done it before and have NO idea what I’m doing…so I need your help. Can you help me?”
“Uh…sure. I’ll stay up front.”
“Thank you soooo much! Why is this called a limited stop?”
“Uh…I’m no expert, but I think that somewhere around Grand Avenue you only stop if there is someone waiting at the bus stop, or you get a stop request.”
“I guess that makes sense. So, how do you get to highway five to the airport?”
“Seventh street kinda turns into highway five..you don’t have to turn or anything. It’s easy.”
The substitute driver manages to stop as needed. He even calls out the stops as he sees them on the crude monitor mounted in front of us. I have actually had drivers, knowing the route, do much worse without apology.
“Okay…this is what makes me nervous. There’s a detour! I have to turn onto Saint Paul Avenue up here somewhere.”
“Ahhh…don’t worry. Yeah, it’s coming up. So turn right, and stop if someone is waiting.”
“Right…okay, I see.”
We are going to be fine. In the past, this detour has made my commute faster for some reason. He successfully navigates the detour and gets us back on to seventh street for the last stop at Sibley Plaza.
“Oh geez…I’m going to terminal one, right?…where do I…”
“Just move to the right after the Fort Snelling exit here…take a right, then move to the far left lane.”
“Like this? Oh yeah…okay, now what?”
“Stay in the left lane…”
“Oh, I see…buses and..”
“When you come to the entrance, I’m assuming the arm will go up for you…there we go.”
“Oh my god…thank you so much! Now what?”
“You want to honk at that bus as a courtesy and move to the space just in front…that’s the designated stop for the 54 going to the mall.”
Several passengers get off and on the bus. They probably think I am being rude for standing in the front…just behind the yellow line. Honestly, I would rather be comfortably sitting near the back and checking email, Yahoo headlines and facebook. Oh well. We don’t always get what we want. The substitute driver needs me, dammit, and I am here for him.
“Okay…you wanna stay to the right toward 494 and now stay right to turn on 34th. When you take the exit, you’ll be turning left, but staying in the right, left turn lane. Do you see what I mean by that?”
“Oh yeah. Oh my god…thank you.”
“There’s one stop here before you turn onto American Boulevard…nobody wants it I guess. Okay..turn right here on American Boulevard, and I wanna get off at the second stop..not here, but the next one at Metro boulevard.”
“Great. So now I need to turn onto 28th…”
“Yeah…drop me off here and take the next left. Then you’re home free.”
“Oh my god…thank you so much. Here..I’ll give you a 24 hour pass.”
“Great…but TSA pays for me. Guess I may try to find somebody who could use it.”
“Sure…whatever you want to do. Again…thank you so much. I couldn’t have done this without you!”
“Okay…take care and have a good day.”