Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I guess this will be the last week that I’ll be taking the 99 all the way out to Lougheed Mall every morning. With the new SkyTrain line going into operation after this weekend, the 99 is only going as far as Broadway Stn., where we’ll have to get off and take the Millennium Line.

I liked the 99 for the novelty of riding a bus that didn’t stop twice on every block. It was speedy and double-jointed, and made a strange hawk-squawk under acceleration. You also had your pick of the seats after the Brentwood stop, so you didn’t have to sit in the accordion part in the middle if you didn’t want to. Damn bumpy in there.

The Express nature of the 99’s route also had a dark side. Nearly every morning, someone found themselves on a bus that was racing into practically another time zone when they were expecting to get off near Sperling, perhaps. They’d walk over and talk to the driver (for the last month our driver has been an imposing woman with a therapeutic brace on her forearm), who would not let them off until the next official stop, which was miles and miles down the highway, just before Lougheed Mall. Sometimes the passenger would sit back down, bewildered and resigned. Sometimes they would get angry and spit “Fuck you!” at the driver when they were finally let off. But in any case, someone’s day would be ruined. It would kind of ruin my day a bit, too. My worst nightmare is being on a bus, looking up from my book, and discovering I’m not where I expected to be. I could sympathize. I’d probably die if I was stuck on a bus that would not let me off, not just because of the time I’d waste getting back to where I wanted to go, but from the embarrassment of all the other passengers watching what was happening to me, the shame of being the dumb guy who didn't know the route.

The drivers I had on the 99 never once stood up at Brentwood and said, “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. This bus is not making another stop until it reaches the outskirts of Thunder Bay. If you want to get off anywhere in this climatic region, you’d best get off and take another bus.” That would have helped a few people, I bet.

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