My new (as of January) bus route includes stops at Ithaca College and South Hill Business Campus.
The majority of passengers get off at I.C., leaving a small contingent of us to travel on to the SHBC.
The South Hill Business Campus is home to a large number of organizations, like Better Housing for Tompkins County, Broom Hilda Cleaning Service (best business name ever- second only to Stinky's Septic- tagline- 'we're #1 in the #2 business'), Serendipity Catering, Ithaca Piano Rebuilders, Z95.5 FM, Ithaca Flooring, and Challenge Workforce Solutions.
My old bus went straight from downtown, past my house and right to my work. I was almost always the only person on it. (Hence the change in service, I guess.) My new bus is much more social. I love overhearing the little interactions that take place among riders. There's a couple who get off at IC who have deep, involved conversations in Portuguese every morning. There's a young bearded guy who is sound asleep until the moment we reach his stop. (He looked like a student to me, and I got worried the first time I noticed him. I woke him- with some effort- at the last IC stop. He smiled kind of sleepily and said he was going on to South Hill Business Campus, but thanks for the concern. And then he went back to sleep.) But, by far, the Challenge girls are my favorites.
(Note- I have no idea how old these women are, and I don't mean to be dismissive by any means by referring to them as 'girls.' They're a youthful bunch and quite adorable, so hence, I refer to them as 'girls.' Trust me- I'm kind of sensitive on this issue- once I had a resident who came up to me in the hall and admired my dress. After I said 'thank you,' she told me, beaming, that I looked just like a little girl. And just this morning, I had a resident ask if I was six years old. I wasn't sure if I should take either of these comments as compliments or criticism.)
There's a group of 3-5 young women who get off at South Hill Business Campus to go to work at Challenge. They sit together every morning and talk about work and what's going on in their lives. There's one girl in particular who is very chatty and likes to interact with the other people around her.
For awhile, she was grilling me about my lunchbox. Every day. We had the exact same conversation for a week straight:
"I like your lunchbox."
"Where did you get it?"
"Are those dinosaurs on it?"
"Yes. Yes they are."
She's very curious and likes to quiz folks on what they have planned for their day. I often get asked about my lunch plans. In detail.
I know some people would find this annoying, or even obtrusive, especially if you're not a morning person. But I enjoy these little conversations and always make sure to answer her back; I ask her about her lunch or her bag, if I get the chance to get a word in.
The one girl whose name I do know is Marianne (although I'm not sure of the spelling). I know Marianne's name because MARIANNE IS A BOSS. In the best use of the word.
One particularly nasty cold day, the kind we had this winter where you never really get warm even once you're out of the cold, the Challenge girls were all chatting about something or other and all of a sudden, Marianne holds up her hand, halting the conversation in its tracks. She reaches into her pocket and whips out her phone. She flips it open one-handed with the easy cool of Fonzi fixing a broken jukebox with one beat of his fist, and presses only one button- speed-dial- before putting it to her ear. With her hand still in the air quieting her friends, Marianne proceeds to have this conversation:
"Yeah, Tim? Hi. It's me. I'm gonna need that waiting for me as soon as I get in. As soon as I get in. You hearin' me? You got that, Tim? You sure? I'm gonna need to see you with that waiting for me when I walk in the door. All right. See you in a few."
With a flourish, she flips her phone shut, slips it back her in pocket, lowers her hand and goes back to the group. They- and I- were all staring at her agog, eyes wide. My lunchbox friend sort of gasped and said, "Marianne! What was that all about?"
Marianne shrugged, tossed her head and said, "I told Tim I need a hot cappuccino waiting for me when I get to work. It's too cold out."
We are all identically flabbergasted at Marianne's casual display of power.
"And he'll do that?" lunchbox girl asks, mind still blown.
Marianne shrugs. "I told him to, didn't I?"
MARIANNE IS A BOSS.
I've been watching her pretty carefully since then. There's a lot I could learn from her.