It’s easy to zone out on the bus. In fact, most of the time it’s an essential tool for survival. Pull down your sunglasses to shield you from unwanted glances, and blast your favorite post-work playlist to drown out the soundtrack of the commute. That’s how you do it.
Every once in a while, depending on the route and time of day, you can catch a driver who announces every stop. These men, announcing each stop in their articulate and booming baritone voice, seemed to actually care. So you can imagine my surprise when it’s 8AM and I’m heading East on the 302 bus, and I hop on to listen to the man I’ll call “Charlie.”
Suddenly the romantic days of trains and trolley cars races into my mind. You’re taking the California Zephyr through the Rockies, the conductor sounding like a community preacher. You’re on the streets of San Francisco, sailing past the city, with the newsboy shouting the news of the day on the streetcorner. Then I snap back to reality as I hear “Next stop, Alvarado.”
Riding with Charlie is a beautiful reprieve from the times when the bus is less than comfortable. How about when it’s packed like sardines during rush hour, or when a group of teenage boys lets out a string of profanities, or when the homeless man or woman strikes up an unwanted conversation (a.k.a. a shouting match.) Listening to the sounds of his voice in the morning erase the anxiety of those past rides. It’s nice to catch the touch of care and positivity from him at the beginning of an otherwise regular day. I always find that his good mood spreads like a smile, and things look a little more extraordinary.
Click here to listen to an audio clip of Charlie: