By Eilene Lyon
My recent trip to California included a four-day stay in Berkeley to do research. My hotel was a few miles from the UC campus.
I don’t often take public transportation – it isn’t an option where I live. I asked at the hotel desk about the bus to campus. It stopped within a block and so I made my way to the curb in the morning.
When I boarded the next 51B to come by, I was confronted by the fare machine and a kind-faced driver, a black woman. Not small, not large, a good size, lush eyelashes curled heavenward.
“Can you tell me which stop I need to get off at to go to the library on campus? Near the clock tower?”
She pondered the matter carefully, not seeming the least inconvenienced or impatient. “I think you want to get off at College Drive – that’s where I turn around. Yeah, I think that’s the best place.”
I thanked her, put my $5 in the fare machine for an all-day pass and took a seat near the front.
As we got further downtown and closer to UC, the bus filled up quickly. Soon it was standing-room only. An older white woman boarded – maybe early 70s, hair dyed black, looked like a woman I met on my last trip to California (oh geez, I hope it wasn’t her).
She took a place standing not far from me.
A short time later, the driver pulled over to the curb and parked the bus. She released her seat belt, got up and walked back to two young women.
“Ladies, these seats ah reserved for the older fokes. Get up and let this woman here have a seat.”
Sheepishly, they complied. Raven-hair and I exchanged a look. I got it. But she dutifully took one of the now-vacant seats.
But what really charmed me by the time I had departed the bus was this:
Everyone who exited the bus – front or rear door – said “Thank you” to the bus driver. Surprising enough, but then…
She warmly replied, “You’re welcome!” to Every. Single. One.