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One Big Happy Family

I'll admit it -- in the mornings, I'm a bit of a lollygagger. I'm supposed to be at work at 8, but this morning I just couldn't bring myself to roll out of my comfy, cozy bed until 7:25, therefore missing the bus at 7:38. I was forced to take the bus at 7:48, but I'm so glad I did because I had pretty much the best bus driver in the world this morning.

When I was in college at Pitt, I used to love this one bus driver who drove the 71A. He was an elderly black man who wore ... a gold lamé bowtie and announced the main attractions at every bus stop we came to. "Next stop, Fifth and Bigelow -- Cathedral of Learning, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, William Pitt Union, Hillman Library."

Well, this morning, my bus driver was doing the same thing. He wasn't the same driver from my Oakland days -- the guy today was a middle-aged white man with a goatee wearing a tan Port Authority polo shirt. I noticed it soon after I got on the bus -- "Next stop, Liberty and Ella -- Shur Save, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, Del's Restaurant" -- but quickly became engrossed in the book I was reading and tuned him out.

Until we got close to Downtown, that is, and I put the book away and began really listening to the driver. "Folks, our next stop will be Liberty PAST 10th -- Cultural District, David Lawrence Convention Center, Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. Now, when you get off the bus, please mind the traffic signals and cross the street ONLY when it's safe to walk. Let's be careful out there, folks, okay?"

We turned right at the Original Fish Market and he continued talking. "Once again, folks, the next stop is Liberty PAST 10th. I hope you have a great day and an even more terrific weekend. Weather's 'posed to be beautiful the next few days, and I hope you're lucky enough to get out and enjoy it."

He paused as we inched closer to the bus stop, then started up again. "Oh, and by the way, folks, I'll be on vacation all next week, so don't miss me too much! Ha ha! But I'll be back again the week after that. See you all then. Next stop, Smithfield and 6th Avenue -- Burlington Coat Factory, Mellon Square ..."

I just loved it so much. He was sitting in his driver's seat, rambling on about this city and all the things it offered. Part of what made it so awesome was his Pittsburgh accent -- it wasn't overwhelming, but you could definitely hear it in the lilt of his words, the "let's be careful aht 'air, folks" or "weather's 'posed to be beautiful." Even though in D.C. the Metro was a smoother, nicer ride, I still prefer public transportation in Pittsburgh because of the personality of everyone involved in it -- the passengers, the drivers. It's as if everyone has collectively decided that, yeah, taking the bus is usually crappy, especially when it's overcrowded during rush hour, but, hey, we're here! Might as well make the best of it! Sometimes I think that could be the city of Pittsburgh's logo: "We're here, let's make the best out of it."

So, anyway, thank you, Mr. Bus Driver, for a very pleasant bus experience this morning. I hope I do see you again sometime after you get back from that vacation.


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