It’s 5 A.M. as I head to a job….quiet and misty, desolate and dark as I walk towards the Park with plans to cross it to catch the C Train. It’s a short walk I make often though some would say, not safely at this hour.
In the meantime, the crosstown bus is zooming towards Madison like a fire engine answering a call. In the old days, before they made you click your Metrocard in a machine before boarding, I would have just hopped on. Oh well, no time for the machine since the driver, a middle-aged woman with bright red hair, seems to be in an awful hurry though forced to stop at the light slamming on her breaks.
We exchange what I assumed would be a quick look, when she says…”Hey, where you goin’ at this ow’a?”
I step closer and say, “To catch the C.”
“You hailin’ a taxi, I hope?”
“I never take cabs, out of principle, since they charge 5 bucks to just open the door.”
“So, you’re tellin’ me you’re walkin’ through the park?”
“Yes, it’s a short stroll.”
“Get on,” she says, like a truant officer.
“No, I really need the walk.”
“GET ON THIS BUS.”
Never one to argue with someone who speeds, I do, joining one other woman on the bus who looks as if she saw a ghost.
“Well I was till I go on this bus.”
Before I could ask why, our driver steps on the gas like she’s running Daytona, causing both of us to slam into the seat in front of us.
“She’s tryin’ a kill us…been drivin’ like that since I got on. Like, what’s the hurra’…is there a fia?”
“It must be to keep awake, the night shift after all is tough.”
“Hasn’t she ever heard’a coffa’?”
“Just think how early we’ll be.”
“Not if we’re day’ed we won’t be.”
When we both got off at Central Park West I say thanks again.
“Took no time at all to get over here. Isn’t it great?” I say to the other lady.
“NO,” she says, waiting for the door to open like a calf at a rodeo.
“She’s joking,” I say to the driver who does not look amused.
“No, I’m not. Get me off this day’amed bus…NOW.”
“Well alrighty then, take good care,” I say, as we watch her run like she escaped from the nuthouse.
“Listen, said Mario Andretti, “no more’a this walkin’ through the park when it’s dark. You can always flag down a bus.”
“Yeah but, it’s not your fault I didn’t have the time to scan my card, and I was hurrying.”
“Takes a second for some creep to slam ya over the head, besides, the rules change overnight,” she said, “don’t you do that again, ya hear?”
I was all set to explain the Ed Crescimanni Rule for always arriving early, but she seems like a woman perpetually on the go so I thank her, running to catch the train.
Who says New Yorkers don’t care about each other.