New Driver on the Line

On the 106, certain things change more often than others. The guy with the white ‘phones and green hoodie? He never changes. A Nalgene hangs off his pack and he’s always clutching a large Tim’s. I could set my watch to that guy’s head bobbing into faint sleep every morning at 7:17am. The business woman with the great shoes? I figure she’s got four work outfits that provide several permutations. On Fridays, she always wears the same dirty flats and the same pair of faded 521’s. The straight-haired girl with the overbite who never says boo? I know the exact temperature at which she dons a toque. Minus 14. Despite all these predictables, this morning holds some change. New driver on the 106 line. The previous driver was a crotchety cuss who didn’t say shit to me for two months. One day last week, out of the blue, he actually threw me a “Mornin’.” It was a big step.

This new steerer seems OK. Young and not yet jaded. Must not have drawn his share of Junior High routes yet. Gives me a cheerful “Good Morning!” in a tone that is downright ungodly at this hour. I throw him a pre-coffee croak, head for the back – standing room only. He’s one of those drivers that wishes everyone a nice day as they exit the rig. Some days that’s cool. Today I’m about a penny-height away from falling asleep while leaning and I don’t care. Stops roll by and more nice days are wished. All the students file out and it’s “have a nice day” all around. I’m off a few stops later, and the guy says his piece. I stop in the doorway for a sec and look at him in the mirror. Minus 20 air rolls in. Some mornings, I can’t brook the nice day shit. Maybe I need it today. Maybe this new guy knows something I don’t. I’m tryin, man, I’m tryin.