Archives

Fun on the bus

Muriel2017

Photo by my Chandra

On the way to my exercise class by bus yesterday, when I disembarked, the driver unbuckled his seat belt, got up, carried my walker down to the sidewalk and offered me his hand to step down as if I were a very special personage. What did I do to deserve such special treatment? Give him an expensive present? Offer him a mocha-latte? Nothing like that. All I did was make him laugh!

As the first to climb aboard, because those of us waiting were all female, I jokingly told him this was his lucky day since he was so

busdriver,jpg

It’s easy to get him to smile

gorgeous, we lovely women had especially gathered to get on HIS bus. He laughed. The women laughed. Then unexpectedly, a few more females arrived in time to get on too.

‘Oh, look,’ I continued, ‘The word has gotten out already. Throughout the neighborhood they are passing the news around. More beautiful women want to ride with you!’

passengerssmiling

Merriment ensued

Merriment ensued. Others joined in the fun and the woman sitting in the next seat chatted with me as if I were an old friend. Amazingly, her sister-in-law is in my exercise class! Waddaya know…..

In my neighborhood, people wait politely for buses, but when they see me approaching with my gray hair and walker, they’ll invariably move aside to let me on first. I thank them and climb on to advise the driver they do this not because I’m older but because I’m so beautiful — we all chuckle.

passengersfighting

Drivers can have a hard time with some passengers

I take the same buses at the same time each week to regularly attend classes, so some drivers have already become friends. One recently told me he was being transferred to another line and would miss me, but added: ‘I’ll be back in the winter. Look for me.’ I certainly will. He is very thoughtful and kind to me.

yellingatdemons

some passengers fight their own demons

Bus drivers often have a hard time with passengers who are ill and/or unreasonably difficult. Even I’ve been frightened by some who fight their own demons. I handle it by staring out the window, afraid to even look in their direction. Some can be drunk and argumentative. Our bus drivers are forced to deal with all of it. They deserve a break.

Here’s to the bus drivers of our city whom I find very helpful, considerate and caring. Let’s all treat them well.

 

Advertisements

One door opens, another closes…

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

It was high time to give up driving. My vision had changed and my little old car was tired. Do I miss it? Yes. But only for grocery shopping. Traveling by bus is not only a new adventure, but an opportunity to see more — and chat with strangers. People are fascinating. I’m new at using buses, and don’t know anything about where they go or their schedules.

My friend Hans, who lived in L.A.’s Hollywood Hills, used to tease me about plans to visit ‘the village’, which is what he called this beautiful city. He was delighted by the unpaved sidewalk and  remaining unpaved alleyways here and there in my neighborhood.

I believed him. This IS a small town compared to L.A. which is so very large. Using buses for transportation, I was allowing an hour to walk the few blocks to the stop and to get wherever I wanted to go. It worked until now. I’ve just learned the town is bigger than I thought. An hour wasn’t enough to get to where I was to have an ultrasound taken of my shoulder this week.

Yup, it was the first time I’d bused that far. I’d driven that route many times by car, but you get to see so much more out the bus window than you can driving. Driving requires attention to traffic, lights, pedestrians and what’s happening behind you. On the bus, all that is taken car of for you. Hurrah!

Donna suggested I take the ‘Express’ but I didn’t know where it stopped. A REAL person would have asked but I didn’t so I was five minutes late for my appointment. No one else seemed upset by that but me. (Well, did I ever promise you sanity?)

Ultrasound-Machine

Storm clouds? Stormy sea?

The ultrasound experience was new too. I had once had one, but this time I could actually see the screen. At first it looked like storm clouds gathering and whirling about in preparation for a huge storm — in my shoulder. Later I saw it differently. It looked more like ocean waves in a stormy sea. The technician listened to my nonsense with  amusement, then ventured to say nobody had ever seen the ultrasound in that way before. Probably true….

GoodoutsideRio

The Rio Theatre built in 1938

Afterwards, on leaving the building, I looked across the street. Wow! I was right in front of the awesome old Rio Theatre, now so much in our local news. I’d never seen this beautiful Art Deco venue before. No wonder local residents don’t want the Rio, built in 1938, torn down to be replaced by yet more condos — which most of us can’t afford anyway.

LobbyRio

Rio Theatre lobby

The other day, I read the Rio was voted our city’s #1 ‘Multimedia’ venue. (It features film and live performances.) What is wrong with us? How can we allow irreplaceable jewels like this gorgeous structure obliterated? The likes of the Rio will never be constructed again. It will be lost to us forever. Kudos to the present operator, Corinne Lea, who is trying to raise the money to purchase the building and save it. She’s just started a crowd-funding push. I wish her success.

Ridge Theatre 1950-

Ridge Theatre, 1950- 2013

My own neighborhood has lost an old theatre too, the Ridge (1950-2013). It was not as gorgeous as the Rio, but nonetheless much loved. The ground floor is now a Loblaws Market (infamous for its participation in a massive bread price-fixing scheme for years which cheated food shoppers) with yet more condos above. The old ‘Ridge’ neon sign sits on top of the building — a constant reminder of what we’ve lost forever.

 

Praises and Pet Peeves

Muriel2017

photo by my dear Chandra

Goodness me! Where did the days go? Seems like I spend more time at ordinary tasks these days — necessary and unnecessary. My San Francisco loved ones visited over the New Year and as always, treated me with more consideration than I deserve. Only after they left did I realize I hadn’t washed dishes while they were here!

The accrued laundry is still awaiting my attention and I let it wait because I had other priorities once they were gone. (Happy Birthday Joseph!) Then my exercise and Tai Chi classes started again and let’s face it, nothing seems more important than keeping this old body of mine moving. Time passed quickly and I’m only now sitting down at my computer to talk to you.

chair-fitness

Keeping this old body of mine moving

I was going to write about pet peeves, but let’s face it, what in the world do I have to complain about? Someone as lucky as I am must, therefore, include praises as well.

busdriver,jpg

Bless our bus drivers

Since I no longer drive, I use our transit service. I also use a walker, I’m slow, (I was never fast.) and must praise our bus drivers who are patient, thoughtful, and caring. They wait patiently until I am safely on-board and seated before they restart the bus. They tell me to take my time when I disembark. We are certainly fortunate to have such wonderful people at the wheel.

lady walker

Bless helpful strangers

I also find strangers extremely kind. When I want to enter a store or cafe, someone will most often come forward to open doors for me. Am I deserving of such attention and kindness? They don’t ask. They don’t care. They just DO. I’m grateful. It isn’t always easy to push a walker through a doorway.

Talking about praises, I also must praise and am mighty grateful to my children who take time out of their own busy lives to not only visit and cheerfully put up with me when I visit them, but help me with whatever my needs are, especially my tenuous relationship with this computer. Seems to me, as soon as I get comfortable with a program, they (whoever ‘they’ are) ‘update’ the darn thing and get me all confused again. How do the younger people manage???

Which brings me to pet peeves. That’s one of them. I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to

Mother child feet

Feet off the seats please

keep me humble. ‘They’ want me feeling stupid and they’re definitely succeeding. I don’t know what to make of this computer most of the time. Grrrrrrr.

Pet peeves? On the bus, in movies and restaurants, some people will put their feet on the seats. Look guys, you walk on the sidewalk. People walk their dogs on the sidewalk. Dogs urinate on the sidewalk, they also sometimes defecate on those surfaces. Yuk! Please don’t put your shoes up where others have to sit.

 

dogs

Yes, I love them, but please keep them leashed on streets.

And, talking about dogs, I implore dog owners to walk their dogs on-leash on city streets. Yes, I love dogs but I’m uncomfortable with them prancing around my feet. My balance is lousy and I worry about falling — again. Most of us deal with balance deterioration as we age, so this is not only a problem for me. Besides, I have friends who are terrified of dogs, either having been bitten or taught to fear them.

 

I don’t know what else to complain about, but I’ll bet you do. What pleases or irks YOU?

The Kindness of Strangers

stranger-in-red-coat

Stranger in a red coat

A stranger in a bright red raincoat came up from behind me as I plodded across the busy intersection as fast as I could, but not fast enough — the light had already changed to red. ‘I’ll walk beside you’ she said, ‘They won’t want to hit both of us.’

My knee is mad at me so I use a walker. It helps, not only with my angry old-lady-with-walkerknee, but also with my old balance disorder, which has caused many falls through the years. (That’s why my knee is so upset.) The woman realized I was having a difficult time and decided to help a stranger. Why?

In my neighborhood, many shops have handicapped door operators which you push to open the door. Still, passersby who don’t realize that often stop on their way to pull a door open for me. My favorite morning breakfast stop has one, which occasionally isn’t operative yet if I arrive early. (The activator is above the door — I think the staff can’t reach it.) A favorite, tall fellow patron, Greg, will get up and switch it on if he sees me coming. Nice….but why?

door-operator

Handicapped Door operator

The other morning, Greg noticed my walker wheels were caked with what he thought was dog poop. He warned me about it, but I continued reading. I’m such a passionate reader, I didn’t even notice when he and his pal Garth wheeled my walker out the door, cleaned it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it later, and brought it back in. (I’m hoping they were wrong, that what they cleaned was actually ground up wet brown leaves which gather at the sidewalk cuts I have to use.) Why did they bother?

bus-driver

Bus drivers deal with some abusive riders

I regularly attend exercise classes at a community centre. I no longer drive. I use transit. How do bus drivers in this busy city who deal with mentally ill and abusive riders plus crazy traffic manage to stay so considerate? They wait until I’m seated before starting the bus. They patiently wait again for me to painfully rise and slowly back off the vehicle with my walker. (It was a bus driver who taught me that it’s the safest way to leave.)

This week I told a driver I wish I could sit on my walker on the bus. It’s higher and less painful to rise from. At my stop, she urged me to take the time to place it in a particular spot, set the brakes, and see if it would work. Not wanting to make her late, (they are on schedules) I told her I’d try it next time I rode a bus. Hey, it works. I hope I see her again so I can thank her. I’ve since used her idea twice. Why did an absolute stranger do this?

Then, the volunteer who sells coffee once a week at the center carries my coffee to a nearby table for me. It’s difficult for me to manage that and the walker — multitasking was never my thing. He says he’s not allowed to accept tips, I never ask him to do it, but he does it anyway. Why?

What makes so many strangers so kind? For one, I believe most people are inherently good. I also know that when I am kind to others, it gives ME a warm fuzzy. So it goes…..we give, we get. I am ever grateful to my wonderful caring family, to my friends, and especially those many strangers who are there for me. Warm hugs to you all!

chandra

My son’s beautiful wife Chandra who worked so very hard to plan a special 80th birthday party for me. She succeeded.