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The Slice

The Slice: Bus stop, bus goes

Tue., Nov. 14, 2017

STA buses display a thank you on their reader sign, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, after Proposition 1 was passed. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
STA buses display a thank you on their reader sign, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, after Proposition 1 was passed. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Years ago, I had an S-R colleague who was so utterly disdainful of bus riders the contempt practically dripped off her.

One of my newsroom friends and I referred to her in emails as “Ms. STA.”

This column is not for the Ms. STAs of the Spokane area. It’s for those who are curious about riding the bus but are afraid they will make some sort of rookie mistake and be embarrassed.

Every year, when potentially icy predawn street conditions make me park my bike and start riding the No. 43 bus to work, I notice the same thing.

Some preschoolers get a real bang out of riding the bus. It’s fun to watch their animated faces react to the passing sights, the sounds, the rumbling vibrations and antics of the other passengers.

So maybe you have thought of riding the bus with your young granddaughter but were worried you might goof up. Well, I’m here to help.

Here are a couple of my all-time bus riding blunders. They are easy to avoid once you know the ropes.

1) Failure to familiarize myself with the route schedule.

I was once on a city bus in New Mexico when I realized I needed to disembark. So I got up and approached the driver. I informed him I wished to get off at the intersection we were approaching.

“You can’t get off there,” he said. “It’s not one of the stops.”

Oh.

2.) You have to pay. (An STA ride is now $1.75. Up to three kids under 6 can ride free if accompanied by a fare-paying passenger.)

Somehow I got it in my head years ago that Spokane buses wrapped in big ads for a certain anti-drug program could be ridden at no cost.

So one day I boarded just such a bus downtown and brightly asked the driver, “Is it free?”

Now I don’t know what kind of day that gentleman had been having. A fight with his wife? Unruly, obnoxious passengers? But I won’t soon forget the weary look he gave me.

“No, pal. You gotta pay.”

Sometimes at home, when I am demonstrating persistent cluelessness about this or that, a member of my family will quote my now iconic line.

“Is it free?”

Oh, another thing. The drivers can’t make change for you. But they can answer your questions and are usually pretty cheerful about it.

Today’s Slice question: What would you be willing to do to get out of public speaking?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Seems like Dr. Seuss should have been from Spokane.


 
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