Ever since The Devastating Trolley News, I’ve been thinking about all of the find memories I’ve accumulated over the years. So for Flashback Friday, let’s sit down together and talk about the time I accidentally caught feelings for my regular trolley driver back when i worked late shift.
Since I’m a Regular Trolley Passenger now (thanks for nothing, Henry), I have become quite chummy with the trolley driver, who looks like HOLY FUCK Bob Ross is alive and living in the mountains! He says things to me like, “Here we are again, huh? Vicious cycle!” (Monday Greeting©) and “Happy Almost-Hump Day, huh?!” (Tuesday Greeting©, although sometimes he jumps the gun and lets this one fly on Mondays) and I’ll let you wonder wildly about the rest. I’m not the only one to whom he’s so salacious with his salutations: this man loves, and I mean loves to a point of compulsion, to beep his trolley horn at all his PAT Transit buddies. He beeps at buses, he beeps at other trolleys, he beeps at fare booth broads trying to enjoy their cigarettes, he beeps at construction people digging up roads. I mean, the entire trip to work is everyday is soundtracked by BEEEEEEEEP! BEEPBEEPBEEP!! BEEP BE-BE-BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP! It was kind of cute at first, until the time we were going through a tunnel and two buses and one trolley passed us, throwing him into beeping conniptions. It was like a full minute of the most obnoxious, we-are-inside-a-tunnel-you-motherfucker horn blaring that I have ever had to witness. It was kind of like being stuffed in a metal tube and thrown into a deep vat of hipsters screaming about Arcade Fire becoming popular, where the degree of screaming becomes more urgent and shrill the further down you tumble until you finally land in a junkyard of unlimited Fran Dreschers laughing to Jeff Foxworthy jokes. I could still hear it, faintly, an hour later when I was at work. Totally ruined my afternoon.
The one day, he saw one of his buddies in a parking lot, operating some sort of crane, so he was straight beepin’ his proverbial trolley dick, but the guy did not reciprocate the love. I’m 99.9% sure that this was intentional, so Bob Ross: New Career rolled the trolley to a halt and laid on the horn again. This time, the crane-operator doled out the most sarcastic hand-wave I’ve ever seen, and I could almost hear him screaming, “OK! I GET IT! MOTHERFUCKING HELLO! BLOW IT OUTCHER ASS!” Henry said that he was pretty sure that the horns on trolleys and buses were meant to be used as a warning, not a Salute Buzzer. The other day, I couldn’t imagine who Bob Ross of PAT Transit was beeping at, when suddenly I saw a squirrel dash across the tracks. So I guess he does occasionally use the horn as the warning siren it’s intended to be. Good for him. Super nice guy though, for real.
This morning, without realizing it, I began to think about my trolley driver. Not like think thinking, nothing racy or scandalous, just a casual thought popped into my head.
The last time I saw him was Thursday of last week. As I slapped my ConnectCard against the orange pad on the fare machine, he cheerfully boomed, “An hour and forty minutes, then I’m done!” I already know that Thursdays are his Fridays (I’m learning a lot about him from the quick sentences he’s able to push onto me as I step onto the trolley everyday at 12:47PM) so I figured he meant that in that amount of time, he would be done for the week. I smiled and mustered up enough faux-enthusiasm for the “yay” that has become my signature response to his jubilant greetings.
Yesterday, I had a different driver. He wasn’t mean like the guy who yelled at me once for trying to insert a flimsy, laundered dollar bill into the fare machine, but he was no Resurrected Bob Ross, either. We feigned polite smiles at each other and then I took my usual seat in the back, where I read a book the rest of the way into town.
It wasn’t until this morning that I thought about it, the different trolley driver and what my regular trolley driver said to me last week. An hour and forty minutes. What if he was counting down to his retirement? What if that was my last ride with the out-of-place mountain man and his unruly facial mane? What if I never had the same driver again, no one to act happy to see me everyday at 12:47 on the dot, no one to make me feel like I was more special than the other commuters who just got a generic “hello” or “how’s it going?” and nothing fancy and personal like the time I went back to riding the tolley after Henry had spoiled me with two entire weeks of having a personal chaffeur and the trolley driver, his face all lit up around his gnarly gray cheek-shrubbery, cried, “HEY! HOW YOU BEEN?! I thought maybe you bought yourself a motorcycle so you could ride to work in style!” And I was mostly embarrassed, but also a little smug that he was paying attention to me and not the hoodrat in booty shorts who had walked on right before me.
And what if now he was retired and I would never get to say goodbye and wish him luck? And why do I even care? Other than it has been nice to be greeted by a friendly, now-familiar face every day when I step onto that awful trolley and begin my daily descent into the depths of Hell.
Yesterday, the new-to-me trolley driver didn’t happily honk his horn once. It was the quietest commute to work I’ve ever had.
Today, I was trudging along Potomac Avenue toward the trolley platform when a gruff, yet amiable, voice yelled, “Hello! Hey! Hello!” I lifted my sunglasses onto the top of my head and scanned the line of cars stopped at the red light. And then I saw him looking out of the backseat window of a black Blazer. My trolley driver!
I waved back and yelled an uncertain hello, because what do you say to your trolley driver when you run into him out in public, as a civilian, without the trolley intertubed around him? It seemed so weird and unnatural, seeing him without his forearm resting on the steering wheel of his long, publicly-sponsored carriage.
“I’m on vacation!” he yelled, his untamed mountain ‘fro looking even more carefree than usual, like stationary storm clouds suctioned to his pate.
“Oh really?” I called back and immediately felt stupid. That is the most worthless answer ever and I do it all the time, and all it does is force people to say “yeah” and what a fucking waste of time I just perpetuated.
“Yeah, look at me!” he cried, waving his hands over his body to illustrate that he was free, oh-so-free of his PAT Transit-mandated polyester-blend. His vacation wardrobe consisted of a denim vest with nothing underneath. It was at least buttoned, though. His arms were covered in tattoos, and I suddenly felt kind of perverse and voyeuristic to be seeing him in anything other than his brown Port Authority uniform, so I looked away real quick, focused on the nondescript broad behind the wheel instead. “I’ll be back in two weeks! On…” he paused for a second to think. “…the 27th! You gonna be there?”
I nodded and smiled. “I’ll be there,” I said weakly, swallowing a grimace. Yeah, of course I’ll be there. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be not taking the trolley any time in the near future.
The light turned green and we said goodbye. I continued walking to the platform, happy to know that he was returning on the 27th and I could go back to being the kind of person that a stranger is excited to see. Maybe I should use this time to put more words into my Things to Say to the Trolley Driver repertoire, other than “yay” “hi” and “I know right” (usually my response when he says something about the weather). I even called Henry to giddily brag about my encounter, to which he responded, “You’re so weird.” I think that, after 12 years, Henry still has hopes that I’m calling to tell him something amazing.
As I sat on the trolley, driven by yet another foreign-to-me face bare of any significant hair design, I wondered why my trolley driver was sitting in the backseat of the Blazer when the passenger seat was empty.
I guess when your job is to cart people around all fucking day long, sitting in the backseat might actually be your vacation.
My commute to work has definitely gotten noisier since Trolley Driver came back from vacation last week, though the first two days were pretty quiet. So quiet, that I began to wonder if perhaps he was scolded for too generously doling out honks. Then one day, he began hyper-beeping and I thought, “OK, maybe the horn was just broke for awhile.” But then I realized he was beeping at a truck who had ignored the trolley crossing sign and nearly got T-boned by us. That was pretty damn exciting.
But by the end of the week, he was back on track, so to speak. Please, enjoy a video I compiled of my shitty trolley ride to work:
That last part is only a tiny snippet at the maniacal beeping that goes on. For instance, there is some work being done on the tracks right after the stop I get on at, so there have been clumps of port authority workers doing their thing. As Trolley Driver passes them, he beeps—once for every single person. And then he slows to a halt and begins to jovially chide the guys in their fluorescent yellow and orange vests and they look like they’re so fucking exhausted of this charade. Man, I really love Trolley Driver!
But guess what!? There is some stupid broad who is sometimes waiting on one of the platforms downtown and he will idle there with the door open, having a conversation with her, even though she’s not getting on the trolley. This has happened numerous times since I’ve been a regular on this particular trolley, and usually the passengers will start to get vocal because hello, we have places to go! So then they say goodbye and he jingles his little trolley bell (and I don’t mean his weener, but maybe I do) and gives one last little TOOTTOOT before continuing on his way.
This happened yesterday and I realized THAT I AM JEALOUS OF THIS BROAD. Does he like her more than me!?!?
Henry pointed out that he* would probably do the same thing to me if he saw me standing on a different trolley platform. I guess he’s right. I mean, he did shout at me from the backseat of a car while he was on vacation.
*(Trolley Driver, not Henry. God, Henry would probably do a rain dance just so he could splash me upon passing.)
“It’s a Trolley Triangle,” was Henry’s response when I texted him the picture of The Platform Harlot.
I NEED TO MAKE HIM LIKE ME MORE THAN HER. Should I (have Henry) bake him cookies?! Buy him an airhorn? Get him a Best Beepin’ Trolley Driver mug? Ugh, I’ll think of something.
You know I’m going to be obsessing over this now. I should probably find out his name at some point.