You Picked A Fine Time To Clam Up Lucille.

While I was waiting at the bus stop a cop car pulled up. Two cops got out, handcuffed the guy next to me, and left. I was in downtown Cleveland. Most people had asked me, “Why would you want to go to Cleveland?” when I told them where I was going. One friend said, “It’s been nice knowing you. You’re gonna get shot there.” Seeing a guy get arrested was as close as that prediction would come to coming true. As for why I was in Cleveland, my wife and I were there for a dog show. And I took advantage of the opportunity to go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Museum of Art. I also toured the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and didn’t let the fact that it was still under construction at the time bother me.

The bus driver was an older, white-haired woman with glasses. She mentioned her name was Lucille. I told her I was visiting from Nashville. We chatted a bit about baseball. The Indians weren’t doing well to her chagrin. I told her my grandfather had given me a baseball signed by Bob Feller. She was impressed that I even knew who Bob Feller was. She told me some things about Cleveland, and a couple of other passengers joined in the conversation. We were rollicking along as we rolled on through Parma.

Laughing I asked Lucille how long she’d been a bus driver. Her whole demeanor changed. “Why do you want to know?” she asked sharply.

Now everyone who reads this is probably rolling their eyes. I have a tendency to say insensitive things, and I had clearly offended her. I’m still not sure why. Did she think I was questioning her abilities? Was she really an international spy and did she think I might blow her cover? And it was a fair question. Why did I want to know? I could have been honest and said I sometimes write about things and thought that would be an interesting detail. And I also believed she loved being a bus driver because she enjoyed talking to people, and she knew Cleveland and the surrounding areas–Strongsville as where my hotel was–well. If I’d thought for  second that it was an inappropriate question I never would have asked.

She was silent for most of the rest of the trip. When we passed a restaurant that advertised paprikash Wednesdays she asked me if I’d ever tried it. I said no.

“You should.”

I still haven’t, but I appreciate the advice, and the ride, Ms. Lucille.

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  1. Gina W.

    Oh man, I cringed for you when Lucille was sharp with you. I do that too sometimes. It’s awful. It’s like, “I promise I’m not trying to be an asshole! This question sounded completly sane when it was still in my brain.”

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I hate to say this, but I’m still not sure what I said wrong. I feel bad about causing offense, but I didn’t think asking how long she’d been driving the bus was too intrusive. Maybe she’d worked some other job and took up bus driving when she retired, which would be really cool.

  2. PinkNoam

    I’m afraid I can’t figure out why she was upset either. Seems a fairly standard way to continue a conversation with someone you don’t know.
    Maybe we’re all just way too nosey for our own good?

    By the way, just noticed my link over there on the left, thank you very much =)

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing where it’s considered impolite to pry too much.

      And thank you very much for dropping by.


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