# 4 – Downtown/Medical Center
I thought I was catching the 4:28 bus north, but the 4:16 was running late and I was able to board it at 4:23. A young man sitting in the sideways seats said he was getting off soon and offered his seat. Stopped at Hill, we could see flashing red-and-blue lights in the distance at the Magnolia and 4th intersection. It was blocked. Traffic at Hill was bumper-to-bumper. The driver called into TARC to get a detour. Cars behind her honked as we sat through the light—it’s not like they could go anywhere anyway.
Finally, we turned left on Hill. A southbound #4 was approaching. Our driver asked that driver what detour he had taken south (4th to Park to 6th to Hill to 4th). Then she had to make a tight right turn on 6th Street, where another southbound #4 was stopped at the light. He moved over as best as he could and she made it through the narrow, crowded street. The young man who had given up his seat was still on the bus and was impressed with her driving skills. Damn girl, you were born to do this You were born to drive this bus.
This morning as we drove past 4th & Magnolia, there was piles of large broken branches and trees at the corner blocked off with tape.
# 4 – southbound
Pouring rain, no surprise. I had my travel coffee mug in one hand and my large umbrella handle in the other. One person (Dell student from yesterday) was in the first bus shelter and two people were in the 2nd shelter ( a white man and a black man) — I took the 2nd one because it’s closer to where the bus stops. As I tried to close my umbrella while standing under the shelter, the black man said that he doesn’t bother with umbrellas. Yeah, I said, this one is about to blow away from me. He just wears his rain cap (ala Gilligan) and his hooded jacket and deals with it. Unfortunately for me, my jacket with a hood was still at work.
The man said to me, You know it’s going to snow on Derby.
Really? I asked.
It’s going to rain and then it will snow.
The white man asked if it had snowed on Derby before. In ’97 it did. It wasn’t much, but there was snow.
I’m pretty sure I was waiting for the 7:49, but it didn’t arrive until 7:55. While we waited, a black woman approached both shelters. She had crossed the street from Quiznos and had an umbrella but it wasn’t open. While she was jaywalking, a turning car stopped to let her continue, but she waved the car on instead and glared at it. She asked at the first shelter for change and then came to ours. She asked me for a TARC ticket or change and then asked the white man. Then she pushed all the newspapers off the bench onto the ground (there had been a layer of free papers on the bench–perhaps to serve as a dry seat for someone earlier?). I thought she was going to sit, but no.
Then she asked the black man. What about you? Did I ask you?
The man responded with something like Me no understand. No English. I have never seen someone pretend not to speak English to avoid a panhandler before. Classic.
She glared at everyone and crossed the street again. She tried to board the northbound bus then got off and walked north then turned east on Broadway.
The black man said to the white man and me, I had to think in a circle for that one (or something like that). She’s lucky I didn’t talk to her. I would have fuckin’ cussed her out. You complain about it being dirty (motioning to the newspapers on the ground). It’s because you make it dirty.
Once on the bus, the white man pulled the cord somewhere near Central Park, but the driver missed the stop and stopped past the light at Magnolia. Another man asked if we were close to Barret. Totally going in the wrong direction for that. He got off at the next stop, presumably to go north and then east on a different route.
# 4 – Iroquois Park
I got up 10 minutes earlier today but left 10 minutes later, which had me waiting for the 8:02-ish bus at 4th & Broadway. As the bus approached on Broadway, a man in a winter cap with ear flaps made the rounds looking for change. First he went to the men: Come over here for a minute…TARC fare? If you’re going to ask for money, then you should approach the person and not ask them to approach you. Not that I think it would make much difference in the end.
Then he asked me. It is not a lie when I say I have absolutely no change. He thanked me and then thanked the young woman at the stop on her laptop, who was successfully ignoring him. Thank you lady with the computer…Lady with the computer, thank you. Yeah, she’s not going to look up. Then he crossed the street and headed towards the eastbound #23 stop, so who knows what bus he was even trying to catch.
The girl with the computer had crossed Broadway with the Dell laptop open in her arms — that’s impressive. She was studying advanced chemistry. It is finals week.
I guess everyone was running a little late this morning — the blind woman from the library was on my bus and I usually see her earlier. The driver missed the stop and apologized. The passenger had not pulled the cord and the driver had not heard her say what stop she needed when she boarded. The driver offered to walk the woman over to the library, but the woman said she was fine. A few stops later, the crossing guard boarded behind a man in an electric wheelchair with an oxygen tank.
Along 4th Street, I saw a woman in an electric wheelchair smoking a cigarette with her (assistance?) dog between her feet. And strangest of all, I think someone stole the park benches out of Central Park. I saw the vertical supports and the horizontal support at the base, but no seat and no backrest on at least 4 benches. And those were just the ones visible from the bus.
#4 – Downtown/Medical Center
Because of an early morning awakening due to fire trucks and the smell of smoke (we never did find out where the fire was), I was exhausted at work. I left early and took the 11:17 bus home because I knew I’d be no good without a nap. Three young women were sitting one in front of the other eating buffalo chicken sandwiches. That sauce smelled so good. First they were talking about where to get their transfer bus and where they were going. One said she could have gotten a ride. Another said, I’m not getting in a car with someone I don’t know.
Then they started talking about getting their uniforms for work and the people they have to work with. Because of the season and the fact they were traveling north, I assumed they worked in food service at Churchill Downs. One young woman said, Last year when I was 17 people kept telling me what to do. They’re not my supervisor, they’re not my manager. They told me to respect my elders. They need to respect me.
I was crossing Broadway while a teenage boy in red shoes started to cross 4th. He crossed over to the corner to talk to someone in a car at the light. What’s that? he asked. I assumed someone in the car was asking for directions and continued on to my stop. A few minutes later, the car pulled up in front of the bus stop and the woman in the passenger seat tried to hand me a pamphlet, the title of which ended in “the one.” No, thank you, I said. I still know not to approach strange cars. Don’t take candy and don’t take propaganda from strangers. You are obviously passing out religious materials to random people on the street from your Toyota at 7:13 in the morning and I want no part of that.
The driver was friendly and enthusiastic both in his manner and his driving. When I got off at Brandeis, another passenger commented, It’s good to be on solid ground, and the rest of us laughed nervously.
First trip from my new residence. Same bus, different stop, shorter walk. It was 7:36 when I was more than a block away so I assumed I would not be catching the 7:37 bus. Then I was less than half a block away on Broadway when I saw the #4 getting ready to turn at the light. Reader, I ran. And caught the bus at 7:40.
A few stops later a young woman boarded (the same one with the cell phone last week). She was wearing a heavy winter coat even though it’s pretty warm out, and the bus was hot. She flashed two cards to the driver and kept walking, but he called her back. Whatever her cards were, they apparently did not count as tickets because it looked like the driver kicked her off the bus. She sat back down at the stop.
# 4 – Downtown / Medical Center
A man in the back of the bus was speaking Spanish on his cell phone. Loudly. I knew it was Spanish but I couldn’t tell what he was saying. Hmm, maybe I’m not learning Spanish after all. I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Then a man diagonally in front of me started speaking to the woman next to him. He was white and wearing a red Jesus/Christian-themed t-shirt and a camouflage baseball cap. She was Latina and wearing a long jacket and had just boarded with two girls, presumably her granddaughters being picked up from school on the bus.
The man asked the woman a question and I know it was in English, but I couldn’t understand a word he said either. The woman responded with something like, Just pick what’s right for you. There were variations of this for a few minutes before the man launched into a slightly more intelligible curse about going to hell and being damned and so on and so forth.
The woman was very restrained in the face of this and fortunately her stop came up (or she decided to get off early with the two girls). The man yelled after her in a rant about foreigners and Why don’t you speak English? and comin’ here with your greencards. I work with people like that.
After the woman got off the bus, a young African-American man boarded and sat next to camouflage man. You do not know what you’re getting yourself into, I thought. The camo-cap talked to himself a bit in ranting tone but didn’t say anything to the young guy. The man in the back of the bus was still speaking Spanish into his phone. The young guy said to his friend across the aisle that the man was too loud and there should be or there is a rule against loud conversations. Although someone else’s cell phone was ringing at the same time and was much louder. Camo-cap looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t.
# 4 – southbound, Southland Park
Since we had parked on the street in front of our building last night, we had to move the car this morning. We have a spot in a new garage now closer to our new condo (by the end of this week, we hope). R. offered to drive me to work but I said we could just park at the new garage and I’d walk to the stop at Broadway. First, our new parking card didn’t work so R. has to get that fixed (as it was, he was blocked from leaving the old garage yesterday–they deactivated the old one right away but apparently did not activate the new one yet). I made it to the bus stop and checked my phone – 7:24. I checked the schedule – the Iroquois Park bus was due at 7:25. Sweet, I thought. Meanwhile, different buses passed on Broadway. A northbound #4 came by. An “Out of Service” bus passed on Broadway. Another northbound #4 came by. Then at 7:40 the #4 Southland Park bus arrived. What happened to the Iroquois Park bus? This bus was somewhat full for that time of day, but I was able to get a seat near the front.
A woman boarded south of Broadway talking on her cell phone. Part of the conversation sounded like something about housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Not good at all. Then it moved to the LEO’s story on strip clubs closing down. I got off at Brandeis and saw the woman walking into the library when I approached, still talking on her phone.
# 18 – westbound
I waited in the drizzle with my two boxes and got on the bus at Brook & Cardinal. The bus was a little full so I stood up front and put the boxes on the shelf. The guy across the aisle from me asked me (“Miss”) if I knew the time. A woman stood up to talk to the driver and spent the rest of my ride trying to figure out where she had gotten on the bus in the morning so she knew what stop to get off now.
# 21- westbound
When my doctor’s appointment ended at 4:45, it was pouring rain. I had a small umbrella, no raincoat, and two boxes still. R. was at work with no umbrella and was not going to walk 8 blocks east to meet me just so we could then walk 8+ blocks west and north to get home. I told him I could catch the #4 across the street and it would take me to Jefferson. I stood under the overhang of the parking garage and peeked out every few minutes to see if the bus was coming. TARC really needs a mobile website. Then I saw it approaching the light. The bus moved into the left lane–I was on the right side. The bus drove past and didn’t stop. I’ve gotten off at that stop before so I’m not sure why it didn’t stop, but I need to check that out. [edit: The #4 was definitely supposed to stop at Chestnut & Preston. argh]
I decided there was no point waiting on Chestnut anymore since it’s eastbound and I needed to go west and the #4 apparently was not an option. I walked north on Preston towards Muhammad Ali. Under cover of a building, I called R. to say what was happening. We had a side conversation about our closing date before I said I needed to go because it was raining and I didn’t know when the bus came. I was not quite at the corner when the #19 drove past (westbound) on Muhammad Ali. No problem, I thought. The 21 comes this way, too–I’ll just get that one. And it’s a covered bus stop! I checked the schedule. The 21 was supposed to come at 5:05. The 19 was supposed to come at 4:59 and 5:14. It was 5:07. There were no other buses in view. A woman smoked at the bus stop and coughed occasionally as we both waited. Traffic crawled past as everyone tried to get on the on-ramp to I-65.
I thought I saw a bus in the distance but it never seemed to be moving. A man came up to the stop. This motherfuckin rain has gotta stop. It’s messing up my day. I need to get on a motherfuckin bus… He spoke to the woman a little bit. Then she said in a loud voice My name is Erica. What’s your name? You’re asking a lot of questions to someone you don’t know. The man talked some more – motherfuckin this, motherfuckin that. Erica turned to me and said something about us waiting 30 minutes for the bus to get through the light. I responded, It’s been moving so slow, I wasn’t sure if it was really there. Erica sang a little bit.
Two express buses headed to Indiana drove by (they had turned onto Muhammad Ali from Brook and avoided the backup on the other side of the light). Finally, the 19 approached. About a bus length from the stop, the bus stopped and the driver opened the door. It was just after 5:30. The other people at the stop said they weren’t going out in the rain. I’m already wet, I thought, and I want that bus. So I darted off. A passenger on the bus leaned out the door and yelled to the other people that they had to board here because if the driver pulled over to the curb, she’d never get back into traffic. Everyone boarded.
Once we passed the on-ramp, traffic picked up. A young man who appeared to have an umbrella and who was perfectly dry complained that he’d have to make a run for it to catch his transfer. He tried to get off at the corner of 1st Street, but the driver wouldn’t let him off because it wasn’t a stop. He got off at the actual stop on the other side of the light.
At 4th Street, more passengers boarded and the driver apologized for being late. I had to sit through that light 10 times. A new passenger smiled and said Who said you were late? The driver complained about that earlier stretch of her route and how she dreads it every day. I meant to get off at 8th Street but got off one stop too soon and then walked up to the corner to meet R. who had borrowed a large umbrella from someone at work. We got home just before 6 p.m. I left the wet boxes at the stop at Preston & Muhammad Ali.
# 4 – Iroquois Park
The driver and the former security guard passenger were discussing the budget situation. Politics on the bus, fun!
Driver: The Republicans have got an agenda…They’re going after Planned Parenthood…and other services…They want to get rid of all the programs for the poor.
Security guy: They’ll only shut down non-essential employees.
Driver: They’re not gonna shut it down!
Conversation about how much of the budget goes to military and how much waste there is in military budget. Driver: *Your* senators are doing this.
Security guy: They’re not mine! I didn’t vote for Rand Paul. And I certainly didn’t vote for Mitch. I didn’t even like him as county judge.
Driver: Rand Paul is going to be our next president!
Security guy: Ha! You hear Donald Trump is talking about running now.
Conversation about how disconcerting it is when there’s no one at 4th and Oak Street — no one walking, no one sitting at the stops, no one standing around, no one waiting for a bus.
Woman: The government’s closed today.
Security: No, that’s not until tonight.
Driver: They’re not gonna shut down the government down!
Woman: No, not that one. Parole has a furlough today.
[Not sure how that relates to an empty 4th & Oak Street]
Security: Kids are on spring break this week. It ends today.
2nd Woman: Thank god. I want my kids back in school.
When I got off the bus, the driver and security guy were talking about taxes and local services.