Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

CONTEXT CLUES, DO YOU READ 'EM

What happens when an outbound bus isn't really outbound?

That could be a confusing way to put it. I'll start again:

I was waiting tonight for either a 14 or a 10, two bus routes that get me to either a block from the house or six blocks from the house. I'd already walked from the office and across the Hawthorne Bridge, because walking is often a good idea, and had stopped outside the Burgerville at SE 12th and Hawthorne, the last chance to board either bus at the same place until they converge a few miles east. It's also where Hawthorne eastbound goes from one-way eastbound to two-ways, so it's one end of a couplet.

And a 14 did the unusual thing of preparing to stay in that couplet.

There it was, alone in Las Vegas, completely twisted on drugs -- excuse me -- there it was, pulling up to the turning-red light and staying in the left-turn lane, a few lanes away from the actual stop.

A woman at the stop started calling to the bus. Yes, you can say "14...14..." plaintively. She also made the arm gesture for "what is going on?," outward and slightly bent with palms up. Wondering what was going on myself, I looked closer. The bus had the "14" on in its front and right displays, but instead of "14 HAWTHORNE / TO 94TH & FOSTER" the displays were saying "14 HAWTHORNE / TO PORTLAND." Which is what the inbound buses say. So I didn't know why, but I figured out: the bus was circling back to its brief route through downtown and would then head outbound. No one was on the bus except the driver, by the way.

The woman, finally taking advantage of the light for eastbound Hawthorne being red, crossed the street and stood on the little island between the through lanes and the left turn lane the bus was in. She gestured to the driver until he opened the door, and immediately got on. And then, some seconds later, got off.

And, I'd say, risked being in traffic to find out why a bus that wasn't going to pick us up wasn't going to pick us up. Which could be deduced fairly easily, I thought, from the (relative) safety of the sidewalk. The moment...it rubbed me the wrong way. Any speculation I do on why it rubbed me so might end up being unfair, and I try not to be. Unfair, that is. Not even in my blog. But me going "Huh?" about what happened seemed right, tight now.

At least no one at the stop was confused that a 14E also came by -- that's an express that doesn't stop until it's 39 blocks into SE. And which often has to stop once before that because one or three people who'd boarded in downtown hadn't seen the "EXPRESS" or the "E" or heard the automated voice say "Does not serve all stops." (The express bus drivers usually mention it too, and still. AND STILL.)

So I'd watched a little, slight drama. And maybe a minute later, both a 14 and a 10 arrived and stopped, which should be enough to make everyone happy.

Anyway, travel well!
Tags: peregrinations
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