Riding the Bus

The 1R bus stops to pick up passengers in downtown Oakland.

The 1R bus stops to pick up passengers in downtown Oakland.

Her eyes shift from the stack of papers in her hands then to her watch. She’s wearing a navy blue blazer, a peach-colored pencil skirt and a pair of black peep-toe heels. Watch to papers, papers to watch.

The bus stops at Telegraph Avenue and 40th Street and a handful of people walk on. They know the drill. Passengers either tap their Clipper cards on the meter next to the driver or show their daily single ride passes, and then they take a seat. For UC Berkeley students, they walk in with their school ID’s held out, showing a sticker issued by the university that allows them to ride the bus for free.

With a cup of Starbucks coffee in one hand and a Clipper card in the other, a man utters a quick hello to the bus driver, who responds with a “Hello, sir.” The driver smiles as he shuts the doors and pulls back onto the road. “My favorite part about my job is meeting different people from all over the world,” said Will, who’s been working as a driver with AC Transit for 18 years.

Passengers are scattered all over the bus. Ear buds plugged in. Reading. Gazing. Each in their own world. A man wearing a black hoodie and torn blue jeans is asleep in a seat near the front of the bus. His wrinkled hands hold on tight to a red, worn-out duffel bag. His destination is known only to him. If luck is on his side, he will wake up when it’s time for him to alight.

At Telegraph and 30th, the lady in the navy blue blazer organizes her stack of papers, puts it in her brown, leather bag and hurries out.

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