Protective glass


Driver of the 64 outbound bus on Sunday afternoon of New Years Day 2017.

Yesterday, on New Year’s Day, I took two buses to get out to Waterworks Mall because that was the only Barnes and Noble that had Paterson, of which I’d read just a snippet and had to have more of. And, at my brothers request for our New Year’s dinner, I needed to buy Neapolitan ice cream at the Giant Eagle next door to the bookstore.

I took the 64 from Squirrel Hill North and told the driver my plan to write and photograph stories I witnessed on the buses. I did not tell her that…

…Inside the bus one sees our thoughts sitting and standing. Our thoughts alight and scatter – Who are these people (how complex the mathematic) among whom we see ourselves in the regularly ordered plate glass of our thoughts, glimmering before shoes and bicycles?

But I told her the name of this blog and asked if I could tell her story and take her picture.

She immediately got very nervous, but she was very friendly and wanted to help but also wanted a way out without saying plain “no” so she called Port Authority and asked them if it was okay if I took her photo and put it on a blog. When they said”yes,” surprising us both, she went digging for her lipstick in the bag she had hanging on the other side of her driver’s seat.

“You don’t need lipstick!” I said.

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t! shouted the nearest passenger, a middle aged man. “You look just fine! You look pretty just the way you are!”

She stopped digging in her bag and turned her head to me, her smile stretched big and fake in an agony of nervousness.

“Hey, it’s a green light!” shouted the middle-aged man.

So I waited until we got rolling again and stepped back behind the protective glass and every now and then just talked to her about this and that and, when she got less nervous, took a few shots over her shoulder of the city streets she knew so well, the big wheel, her hands, a snippet of her face reflected in the rearview mirror.

She let me off on Negley and I headed down to the 75 bus stop across the street from the East Liberty Busway station, nearly empty on a Sunday holiday, barren and bright against the windowed walls of the high-priced apartments that have been built between Penn Ave and the train tracks.


East Liberty Busway station, seen from the 75 bus stop on New Years Day 2017


About helengerhardt1

Helen Gerhardt: Pittsburgher, writer, member of the Commission on Human Relations: nothing written at this blog reflects the views or positions of the Commission.

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