An all-day pass on Nashville’s MTA will allow you to ride until 2AM the following day which has always made me think it’s slightly misnamed. If you buy one at 2PM you get to ride for twelve hours; if you buy one at 10PM you only get to ride for four hours, but you also get to hop on and off as many buses as you want for $3.25 so I’m not going to quibble about it.
I was contemplating all this while I sat on an early morning bus waiting for the driver to get a cup of coffee and come back. I think it was her first run of the day so I didn’t mind the wait, especially since I can’t really get the day started without a little caffeine buzz of my own, but that’s another story.
Then she came back and we started talking. We talked a bit about coffee at first; she liked hers plain with a little cream, and added, “You know, those expensive foamy things are for people who don’t like coffee. They want a milkshake.” That made me laugh and then I asked if this was her first run of the day.
“Sort of,” she said, then explained that she’d spent the night at the downtown bus depot which I didn’t realize had sleeping quarters and showers for drivers.
“I worked the end shift last night and then the first shift this morning. Between the hour drive home and the hour drive back I’d have maybe an hour to sleep at home so I just stayed over.”
I did some mental math based on the schedule. Staying over had gotten her at most three hours’ sleep which still wasn’t enough but at least was better than only one.
She went on to tell me she was working extra time to earn money to build a pool, an unusual thing to have in Tennessee, but she’d moved here from Cleveland so even January’s worst in this neck of the woods must seem balmy compared to northern Ohio.
It was just the two of us for most of the trip, but by the time I disembarked several more people had gotten on. I thanked her on my way out.
“Thanks for helping me wake up,” she said.
Next time I’ll buy the coffee.