garvs asked: This is not on your list of topics, but I am interested in bed time and morning rituals, both the broad topic and the habits of individuals.
Only about twenty minutes elapse between the moment I get out of bed and the moment I run out of the door for the bus stop. I don’t have pets to feed, or a newspaper to read, and I never eat breakfast in my apartment (I don’t think I’ve sat down for a meal on a weekday in my living quarters since I moved out of my parent’s house in 1998), so there’s not much of a reason to linger. I take a shower, brush my teeth, find some clothes somewhere (let’s not kid ourselves: on the floor, usually), make sure I have a book to read, and I’m gone. There is no reflection or dawdling.
If I set foot out of my front door before 8:37, I can make it to the Bloomington Avenue bus stop without needing to run or ride a bike. If I make it out the door closer to 8:30, I can walk to the slightly closer bus stop at Chicago Avenue. The bus arrives at Chicago Avenue between 8:44 and 8:47, and about two minutes later at Bloomington.
The bus is the #53, which is where I have ample time to reflect, and — most importantly — read. It’s a 40-minute bus ride to Lowertown St. Paul, where I work. That’s 80 minutes a day, round-trip, which comes out to well over six hours a week of reading time. It’s done wonders for my literacy.
The #53 is the best bus in Metro Transit’s entire fleet. It’s the one everyone that lives in South Minneapolis and works in downtown St. Paul takes, so all the MPR, History Center, Science Museum, McNally Smith and nonprofit organization workers are on it. It’s a nice place to meet your peers.
The best part of the 53, besides the passengers, is the drivers. There have been a few distinct driver eras. I don’t know how driver assignments work exactly, but usually you’ll have the same driver for a few months. The last 53 of the morning, which I’m usually on, seems reserved for drivers with some seniority, since it seems to be an easy route, so a lot of them are older employees with a pretty good attitude. Metro Transit drivers are an interesting bunch. They seem to come from all kinds of professional and personal backgrounds. The most recent driver is a really agreeable, friendly guy with a long white goatee.
My favorite was the Charlie Era, which lasted through the last half of 2011. Charlie never talked much, but he had a great look: a guy in his late 50s with white buzzed-cut hair, Ton-Loc wrap-around sunglasses, a silver feather earring, and one black leather driving glove.
I only had one conversation with him. Before I got off one day, he suddenly pointed at a nearby building, and asked, “Hey, what’s in that building?” I told him it was Heartland, a good restaurant. “You ever eaten there?” he asked. “Yeah, two or three times,” I said. “What’s it like?” he asked. “It’s nice. Very good food. They have a really good reputation,” I reported. “Cool,” he said. “That’s cool. I’m going to eat there tomorrow.”
He once got flagged over before a detour in downtown St. Paul by a Metro Transit worker who tried to chew him out for making a wrong turn or something (“C’mon, Charlie, we put those signs there for a reason!”) and Charlie just didn’t seem to care. He kept his sunglasses on and I think actually said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah” in a surprisingly dismissive voice.
I wonder whatever became of Charlie. I hope he’s either retired, or driving another good morning route. I hope he had a meal at Heartland.