Thursday, January 2, 2020

Volcano to Hilo Bus


The bus driver was a middle-aged blonde woman with glasses. She asked if Bryant was going to give her his Seahawks cap when he got off. He said it was a bit dirty, or he would. A passenger had given her the bright green and yellow gloves she waved at us. Flies two Seahawks flags at home. Real fan. She was expecting some after-Christmas 11th man shirts in the mail; they were on sale. We made our first stop, just off the highway at the edge of Volcano. A scruffy white-haired white man (most men in Volcano fit this description) got on. "Danny! I haven't seen you since before Thanksgiving," our driver said as he sat near the front. The story he told about a near accident with a speeding black sports car pegged him as a bus driver; he mentioned his routes on the Big Island, his years driving in Tahoe. He knows what to do in an emergency. There were five kids on the bus; he drove them to their stop, then called it in.

The bus driver said she'd been sitting near the Kuhio Mall turn a couple weeks back when another bus came screeching up beside her (not our company, not our bus, nothing) and took her mirrors right off the bus. They kept going. She had to stop and call in and make a police report and the other driver claimed SHE'D hit HIM and what's with people telling lies all the time. Her passengers had all written reports. She's heard nothing since. She likes her job.

Down toward Mountain View we encountered our first of several slow drivers. A white vehicle that would have been swerving had it been going faster, dawdled down the hill at 30 in a 55 mph zone. The car eventually settled onto the shoulder and she gave it plenty of clearance as she drove by, only to run into another slow driver, this one with only one functioning back light, someone in a small pick-up truck. That vehicle turned, and our bus pulled over for two passengers. "Get on fast!" she said. "I'm serious. That guy's going to pass us and then it'll be slow going again!" The two passengers rushed inside and found seats.

She'd spent New Year's with family, lots of family, her mother-in-law and other people who had nowhere to go. It was loud, very loud. Explosions everywhere. She knows some people with PTSD in Hilo. This is no laughing matter. But it is what it is.

"Turn your music down out of consideration for your fellow passengers," she said, raising her brightly lit gloves off the steering wheel. Someone had music on in the back, but someone did not turn it off. So the bus driver turned her radio on high. The 80s station. "Faith" by George Michael. She sang along. Turned at Kea`au, found herself behind slow driver number three. Made it through town and headed back onto the highway, telling Danny that people go all that way up the highway and do u-turns in front of her to get back where they can make a right turn, no light.

As we approached the mall, she pulled out transfer slips and started writing on them. Her right hand clasped the pen between her second and third fingers, as she wrote down the time and the name of the transfer, all while driving the large Polynesian Adventures bus (provided by the state). We did a large loop (square) around the mall and came to a stop behind Macy's. The next bus wouldn't come for another 45 minutes or so, so we entered the "Men's and Children's" wing of Macy's and headed toward the mall's central area. We stopped at a Maui Taco place for a bit to eat and then headed back through the mall (there were people in the public areas, but very few in the stores) and out to the exit. We were early, at least 20 minutes early, so I turned on my phone and started to look at my twitter feed.

It was then we learned that Trump had ordered the assassination of the Iranian second-in-command, and that he was dead. This is not about to be a war, one tweet read, this is war. Trump had tweeted an American flag, nothing else. We got onto the next bus, took a short ride to the airport and flew home.

'Cause I gotta' have faith
Ooh, I gotta' have faith
Because I gotta' have faith, faith, faith
I gotta' have faith, faith, faith

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