Muni bus open
San Francisco, California, United States

Apple + Pro HDR iPhone, Apple iPhone 6 back camera 4.15mm f/2.2
1/3300 sec @ f/2.2, iso32 (29 mm)
© by Terry Chay on flickr

That time I was (almost) a bus driver

I’m taking the bus this afternoon to meet someone for coffee and an old memory hits me.

I’m in the third grade and the Cub Scouts are going to be performing a skit for the school. My two friends, Kenny and Tom, are going to be playing old ladies.

INT. A BUS – DAY

(Two old ladies board the Bus. They stand next to a man seated in front of them.)

OLD LADY 1
I can’t believe the bus is so crowded that there are no seats!

OLD LADY 2
Yes, and to think that no one is giving up their seat for us old ladies!

OLD LADY 1
Yes, chivalry is dead.

OLD LADY 2
And my poor feet!

(Repeatedly the man tries to stand up and is pushed back down by one or the other old ladies.)

OLD LADY 2
Sit right back down!

OLD LADY 1
You are only doing that because you overheard us talking and are feeling guilty.

(…This goes on for quite a while until…)

MAN
(standing up forcefully and in anger)
I wasn’t trying to give up my seat, I was trying to leave. My stop was 3 miles ago!

(Man asks the driver to stop the bus and leaves in a huff.)

> END PLAY \<

You can see, as the bus driver, I had to do basically nothing except hold an imaginary steering wheel, which I was happy to do. I did not complain even once about the only Asian kid being stereotyped as a blue collar worker. Holding an imaginary steering wheel was a stress free job to be thankful for. After all, I would not have to wear a wig or a dress. I could just be bored and concentrate on holding up my tired arms.

During rehearsals, the director (aka den mother) said, “I think it doesn’t sound right. Let’s change that last line to ‘I wanted to get off three stops ago.'”

Finally something to do! After that, I started to mime stopping the bus and opening the door.

“Stop that,” the den mother said. “It’s very distracting.”

I wasn’t going to endanger this sweet gig by pointing out the logical error of someone wanting to get off “three stops ago” when the bus never stops. I went back to quietly holding my imaginary steering wheel.

And so this would have gone down the memory hole, even mine. Except for…

The day of the play arrived, and backstage Kenny, his mom, and the director approached me. That’s odd, Kenny is dressed like me in a white dress shirt and dark pants.

“Kenny is in tears,” Kenny’s mom told me. “He’s so scared of being teased at school for dressing like a girl. Will you be willing to switch parts with him?”

“But I never got to practice any lines. I won’t remember them.”

“Oh, Tom can help. We’ll split the original lines between you and Tom so you only have to memorize half of them,” offered the director.

Silently cursing the fact that my mom was both too busy and too sick to ever be a den mother and prevent me from being railroaded by a crying friend and two adults, “I guess I could try.”

It turned that while sitting holding my arms up during rehearsals, I was able to pick up the lines very quickly, I even ad lib recovered some of Kenny’s lines that Tom couldn’t remember. Afterward Kenny commented how silly it was that the last line is about wanting to get off three stops ago when the bus never stops.

The next day all the girls in the class teased me mercilessly about how I played such a convincing and cute old lady at the play last night.

“That’s no fair. What about Tom, he was a girl too! Why don’t you tease him?”

“Yeah he was,” they said, “But he couldn’t even remember half his lines!”

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tychay

light writing, word loving, ❤ coding

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