Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get on the bus already, will you Gus?!?


I was driving west down Hillsborough Avenue yesterday afternoon, stuck in late 5:00 rush hour traffic when I glimpsed a man charging full speed down the sidewalk. It had to be about, oh I don't know, 137 degrees out, he was wearing work clothes and charging like an Olympic sprinter. Good for him, I thought. Who needs spandex, optimal training conditions and sensible shoes for a nice workout? I looked a little further down and realized he was trying desperately to catch a bus. It was probably close to a quarter mile away and I didn't think he was going to make it. Now, it's not that I was hoping he wouldn't get there in time. On the contrary, I was rooting for him. I didn't want the poor guy to be late for whatever he was on his way to or anything. It's just that I wouldn't have minded seeing what would happen if he hadn't. Much of what we consider humorous is born from anger and there's no doubt that this would have been one angrily, humorous meltdown. But he did get there, with time to spare as it turns out. He probably could have sauntered leisurely to the bus because he and I had both apparently forgotten that we are in Hillsborough County, where the term "bus stop" is taken quite literally. In most cases, the buses stop right in the middle of the lane when at a bus stop and HARTline buses are known to actually sit parked and block traffic flow for minutes at a time. I don't know what's going on in there, but I've never seen anything like it. I've seen how buses operate elsewhere so I know of what I speak. In Germany, if the schedule says the bus will be there at 8:15, accept it as fact that it will be and proceeding to the next stop before the clock hits 8:16. In New York and Chicago, the buses never actually come to complete stops at any time when taking on or discharging passengers. But in Tampa, I think the following steps are taken every time a passenger gets on:

  1. A fare is paid in rare Asian coins that the driver must count individually by hand.
  2. The driver issues a three-part, hand-written receipt.
  3. The passenger peruses the selection of available seating options, eventually choosing one.
  4. The driver takes a cello lesson.
  5. The previous four steps are repeated until all passengers are seated satisfactorily.
  6. Then and only then, the driver begins seriously considering the resumption of forward progress.

So anyway, the guy got there in time and presumably got to relax in air-conditioned comfort before arriving safely at his destination. Good for him. I honestly would have felt badly otherwise. Laughing hysterically, most likely, but definitely feeling bad about it.

1 comment:

kelley said...

I can say from experience that you aren't far off with what happens once he steps into the bus parked in the middle of the highway.