Thursday, October 5, 2017


This is the current iteration of the bus, and #2 route. There have been many different bus "stylings" over the years.

It's hard to say goodbye to an old friend. It's even harder when that old friend isn't really a person, or a thing, or a place, but a state of mind, if you can call it that. When I found out that our old Tampa Hartline Bus route #2 on Nebraska Avenue was going completely away, I felt sad. I don't know why, because there will still be the sleek, MetroRapid that courses along Nebraska Avenue briskly. There won't be as many stops and it will all be very efficient and time-saving and money-saving, I suppose, but I am going to miss the wheezing blue bus that was full of God-Knows-What. It just always made my day and I've written about this route in several posts.

Missed the movie “Deliverance”? Never fear. It got on the #2 bus every day around 2:30, after the M.D. 20/20 had run out, and it was time to head back down town to the Salvation Army, where dinner was served at 4:30 pm. There'd be a hootenanny, a hoe-down AND a ho down in the aisle, if the driver just didn't give a shit, which most of them didn't as they were pretty jaded by all of this after years of driving this route.                   

This is NOT who was running up and down the aisle, drunker than a coot screaming he was Apache and Geronimo and had a broken leg. Not even close! 

Last week, “Geronimo” got on the bus. I'm not too sure what this dude's deal was, except that I'm pretty sure the real Geronimo didn't sport Nikes, support hose, a broken leg - which he loudly proclaimed he'd just gotten and walked out of the E. R. with - a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, and a porkpie hat, and proceeded to tomahawk his way up and down the aisle during our bus ride loudly proclaiming he was an “Apache and fuckin' Geronimo!” with a whiskey bottle hanging out of his back pocket. He got off at the local Drunk Park, or whatever it's now called. It's the one place I actually cross the street and pass at a stiff trot, brandishing my cane. They usually haul one or two out of there per day. Whether or not they survive is an open question.

Of course, no #2 bus route elegy is complete without “Shoe Sniffer”. This guy really cracked me up, but he pissed off most of the men on the bus. He was into sniffing shoes, but only men's shoes. When Jim was alive, he came home one day, and said, “Get this. I'm on the #2 bus just now and this guy comes up and asks me if he could smell my shoes. And then! Without even waiting for a yes or a no, he gets down and starts smelling my shoes! And then! He acted like he wanted to lick 'em! I told him to get the HELL away from me! Have you ever heard of such a thing?” By the time I stopped laughing and explained what a “shoe fetish” was, he was just aghast. Well, “Shoe Sniffer” was all over the place sniffing shoes on the #2 bus until he finally got arrested. It was such a shame, because it was so damn entertaining on the bus. You'd hear someone yell “GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!” and just know “Shoe Sniffer” had struck again! Of course, to be fair and honest, if he was into sniffing women's panties, he would have been stopped a lot earlier than he was. Still; just sayin'.                 

This is one of the older "stylings"; a sort of rainbow swirl, that supposedly gave people motion sickness, but I think that's just an urban legend, kinda like those zombie poison trumpet plants, I made up a year or so ago for A-to-Z-Challenge! But the Checkers-of-the-Damned is for real!

Today, I thought we were just going to have a “normal” ride; one where there's just the usual din of 85 people yelling into their cell phones. Why bother using a cell to call the D. R., New York, or Nigeria, when you're screaming loud enough to be heard without the aid of one? I was also blessed to not have that random guy sitting next to me, just shouting out incoherently. I've had that and it always ends in a fist-fight; then, blood, tears and regret, but not mine. Keep your nightmares in your head; I have enough of my own, thank you.

But no, today we had this lovely gentleman get on the bus and he had a little posey bouquet of flowers; just so pretty. Everyone on the bus had to comment on the loveliness of the bouquet and the man explained that he had just purchased it, because he felt kinda blah, it was a blah day and he needed a pick-me-up. We all agreed that that would do the trick. It was a really nice moment, and there are nice moments on the bus, as well as the crazy ones. Alas, this nice moment was not to be lingered over.

At the very next stop, an androgynous person gets on the bus and sits on the opposite side from me and my roommate, but one seat ahead. This person then proceeds to take out their cell and with earbuds in, starts to watch what is just a stage on the phone. There are no people on the stage; there is no action or movement that I can discern, at all. However, this person is singing and miming and gyrating all over the place to music that is. . . in his/her head? Music really in the earbuds? Person hallucinating? What? I'm going for hallucinating, because after several minutes of this, the person jumps up and hollers out “WHAT IS THAT?” I, like the moron I can be, jump up and yell “WHAT IS IT?” Patty my roommate, who is actually sitting in the seat in front of me, looks up at me and says sotto voce “it's nothing”. I fold up like cheap kleenex and just laugh for 15 minutes. We're in the front of the bus, so the whole rest of the bus gets a nice treat of “Idiots' Delight”. I look back and the guy with the flowers is laughing his head off. I am such a dolt.

So, yeah, I'm gonna miss this wheezy old bus, although the MetroRapid will travel the same road; Nebraska Avenue, with fewer stops and will have the same idiots on it, it just won't seem the same. Everyone in town knows about #2. The #1 bus which runs parallel down another major artery just doesn't have the same trashiness and weirdness; nor the drivers. Who can forget Mr. “Safety Last”? The dork who couldn't make a 90° right-hand turn, and had to call the Supervisor when we got so rowdy, because I was threatening to tell the TPD he kidnapped us (they were only 50 feet away working a traffic accident and 2 other buses had made that turn) and it was frustrating folks, man! That was fun and Alex had a great time telling me to stop acting like I was 11. Incompetence brings that out in me.                    

These are the new green monsters. The seats are hard plastic, with sprayed-on fuzz, or at least, that's what it feels like. They always keep these things at about a jillion degrees below zero too, which is good I guess considering who rides in them. It's also a good way to prevent the spread of colds and viruses during flu season, but I feel like a complete jackass getting on this thing in the summer time with a winter coat, if I'm taking a long trip. But trust me, you'll need it.

Anyway, I wanted to write about the loss of #2. It's been here for forever, I'm guessing, and it might even come back some day. They do change routes and schedules at a whim, but this is a huge overhaul for Hartline. As far as public transportation goes, it's okay; It's not BART or the NY Subway, but it's ours. We'll keep it!

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