# 4 – northbound – Downtown/Medical Center
A man in the first seat on the right was sleeping in his corner. He wore a faded Braves hoodie and a winter coat with a tear along the arm. Around Central Park, he woke up and reached across the aisle to grab a laminated sign taped to the bus. The sign was of the Wash Your Hands/Cover Your Mouth/Prevent Germs variety with bright colors. The man tucked the sign inside his coat and settled back into his seat. The two women in front of me exchanged amused glances.
# 4 – northbound – Downtown/Medical Center
A woman boarded at 4th & Cardinal and told the driver she needed to get off at “Ormsby.” What I heard was “Orange, please,” and I spent half the ride trying to figure out where Orange Street was. She wore a t-shirt with a stretched out v-neck and no bra. Possibly no underwear either, as her plumber’s crack was visible when she got off at Ormsby.
# 4 – southbound
Today was one of those mornings that just took longer. The time when I’m normally brushing my teeth and almost ready, I was just getting my breakfast prepared today. We were about half a block away from Jefferson when I heard the beeping of an unseen bus raising its step. Then the # 4 – Iroquois Park drove away. At least the weather’s nice to keep walking.
We walked to the stop at Chestnut and got there about 3 minutes before the next scheduled bus. The driver said Good morning to most of the passengers who boarded and announced pretty much every stop. At first I thought she was announcing the stops (5th & Broadway! 4th & Broadway!) for the blind woman who gets off at the public library stop, even after she got off at York, the driver continued. (4th & Kentucky…4th & Ormsby…Cardinal...) A couple times she slowed down at an empty stop, opened the doors, then closed them and kept driving.
# 4 – northbound
I boarded at the Stansbury Park stop, and for some reason the bus drove right past the Brandeis stop, even though there were a handful of people there and it’s the only bus on that route. I’ve been skipped at the park stop but never Brandeis, which is at a light.
Two men behind me were speaking Spanish, which I am trying to learn. I couldn’t understand much except for words like “ella” (she). I’ve been very involved in the storylines of Univision’s telenovela Eva Luna (description in English although possibly translated from the Spanish) for the past few weeks and have picked up vocabulary from there, but the men were not talking about anyone cheating, being pregnant, lying about being dead, or stealing money. American soap operas have nothing on telenovelas.
A man boarded at Kentucky, and for various reasons I can’t fully articulate, I quickly decided he was homeless. Then I realized he was carrying plastic Kroger bags and decided he was just on his way home from the grocery store (even though the closest Kroger is north of this stop, not south). Then he tried to strike up a conversation with another man–an older man on the other side of the bus and a couple rows back looking out the window. They did not appear to know each other–one clue: the first guy yelled, “Hey you!” I got off at Broadway and didn’t know what kind of conversation, if any, ensued.
# 18 – Eastbound
A new bus, shocking! The TARC schedule changed for a few routes on February 13. The 18 was one that changed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this convenient before to get to the medical office where most of my appointments are. Today’s trip was for the dentist. I know why people dread the dentist. I have “fabulous” teeth (because I got all my bad habits out of the way with my baby teeth) and the cleaning still left my mouth sore.
I walked to Cardinal and Brook from campus in blustery weather (it had warmed up to above freezing but was windy and not too sunny) but had time so walked up to the Lee Street stop instead. I had even more time than I thought since the 2:23 bus was five minutes late. The stop is across the street from Manual High School which seemed to have just let out. 2:30-ish seems early for high school dismissal, but I really don’t remember what my schedule was in high school. The rest of the route is rather industrial and worn looking — a garbage transfer station, warehouses, train tracks, sad-looking houses, and an empty park.
We passed Albert J. Meyzeek Middle School, which is a math/science magnet school I had never heard of before. It is also next to the Sheppard Square housing development, which I have heard of. The bus passed a small group of junior high girls with large Mylar balloons. Someone from the back of the bus yelled that the girls were waving the bus down (they weren’t at a stop). The bus pulled to the corner and eventually two or three girls with heart-shaped balloons boarded. I got off one block away from the dentist’s office.
# 4 – southbound, Southland Park
The bus started a new route yesterday, which I knew about, but I didn’t think about it how it would affect the scheduled bus times. I reached 6th & Jefferson just before 7:30 and saw the bus was scheduled for 7:35, so I was able to walk two more stops to Muhammad Ali.
A large man on the bus was talking to the driver most of my trip. The passenger had been a TARC security guard and was telling the driver how he had lost his job. Intrigue. Doing his job too well. Filling out too many incident reports. Escorting female TARC employees to their cars late at night. “Fraternizing” with the other employees. Talk, talk, talk. Now he is a guard someplace (I missed the name) where he has to deal with drug addicts and “mental people.” Who knew the TARC offices needed such heavy security.
# 4 – northbound
Shirley Temple bag lady was on again–two days in a row! She had 10 bags this time.
Instead of turning down Bloom, today the bus turned down Lee, which isn’t a much longer ride but which does have a stoplight instead of a sign.
A woman got on the bus with two small children–the boy was about 3 or 4. He smiled and waved hello at me. The girl was one–the driver asked the woman how old she was. And she was fast asleep. She was also wrapped tight in snow clothes. Picture the scene in A Christmas Story when Randy is put in his winter gear–I can’t put my arms down!–that’s what the girl looked like, except in pink and smaller. Like a pink star. The mom said the girl had wanted to walk and she didn’t bring the stroller and then on the first bus, she fell fast asleep and has been out since. The boy said, “I’m sleepy, too.” The woman said, “I know, but I can’t carry both of you.”
# 4 – northbound
Because of construction on campus, I’ve returned to my original campus bus stop (well, original to the #4). It’s basically right across from the library but still requires crossing two streets. This week I’ve been boarding and disembarking from this spot.
The Shirley Temple/Baby Jane lady with the bags was on the bus with a slightly different arrangement of bags than the last time I remember seeing her. Fewer Vera Bradley-inspired prints but more bags. I think she had 7 in her cart and then was carrying two. While she was sitting on the bus, the cart with bags was taller than her. I continue to be perplexed by what she’s carrying. As always, she got off at the Orsmby/Puritan Apartments stop.
The bus took a detour because of the Cardinal/Bloom closing. We turned right on Cardinal, left on 2nd (because 3rd is one-way going south and 2nd is one-way going north), left on Bloom, which was a very tight fit for a bus, and then right on 4th. Except we were stopped at the stop sign at 3rd and Bloom for a few minutes because cars going south were blocking the intersection, even though the light at Cardinal was red and there was no place for them to go. Intersection blocking is one of my driving pet peeves, and when I have inadvertently gotten stuck in the intersection, I feel very bad about it and give the apologetic face. And swear not to do it again. Especially to a bus.
This is an example of one of the crosswalks downtown (8th & Jefferson) where the lights are out on some of the “Don’t Walk” fingers. In this one, we have the thumb, pointer, and pinkie but not the middle or ring fingers. There are a few others with similar patterns. Is someone doing this deliberately? Or do those lights go out first?
# 4 – southbound, Iroquois Park
I boarded the 7:39 bus at 6th & Jefferson at 7:43. Today is the first day a block of 4th Street is closed between Cardinal and Bloom because of university-related construction. The bus turned left on Bloom, right on 3rd, right on Cardinal, and left on 4th. I guess it only adds a few minutes. I considered getting off early and taking a more direct route by foot, but between the cold and the various construction zones blocking sidewalks, it doesn’t seem worth it.