This weekend I took a trip out to the end of a bus line. That wasn’t why I went. The end of the #5 bus line, all the way at the far end of the Belle Meade area, is also a recycling center with big bins for people to drop off their cardboard, paper, plastic, and glass. We have curbside recycling that picks up once a month and takes cardboard, paper, and plastic, but not glass. So I’ve been setting bottles and jars aside for months and we had a pretty big glass buildup in the basement, which sounds like an odd euphemism—“I’ll be in the bathroom for a while; I’ve got, uh, a pretty big glass buildup in the basement”—but that’s another story.
Anyway as I said it’s also the end of the #5 bus route, and a place where people who are so inclined could park their cars and take the bus the rest of the way to work. I don’t know how many people are so inclined. I’ve never seen any cars parked there, but then I’ve only been there on the weekends. I’ve never deliberately ridden the #5 bus route. I have gotten on accidentally. It goes down Nashville’s West End, right in front of the building where I work, in fact, and because West End is a major street the #3 bus also runs part of the way along the same route until they get to White Bridge Road. Then the #3 turns right and the #5 keeps going straight. Back when Nashville’s buses were lower tech they didn’t have signs on the front that told you where they were going, and since few routes overlapped that wasn’t a problem, but one day I caught a bus in front of my building and asked the driver if he’d be going down White Bridge Road.
“Oh yeah, hop on!”
So I did.
A few blocks later he said, “Oh, wait, this bus goes out to Belle Meade.”
I don’t know why he got confused. Maybe he had a buildup of glass in his basement. It was a good thing he remembered when he did, though. The #5 route goes down Highway 70, and there are long stretches that aren’t particularly pedestrian friendly. There are the expansive homes of Belle Meade and their more expansive lawns, and as you approach a slow but steady hill a rocky cliff rises up on one side. Just past the crest of that hill there’s occasionally a small fruit and vegetable stand, which is funny to me and also kind of odd because it’s a terrible place to stop so I wonder how they ever do any business. And once you come down the hill there’s a lot of open green space on one side and apartments on the other, before you reach a shopping center with grocery stores and restaurants and, lately, a guy standing on the corner holding a big sign that says, “REPENT NOW!” And it’s kind of odd to me that he’s working that spot because, although there are sidewalks and a lot of businesses, it’s still not a pedestrian friendly area, and if, say, you want to get groceries after you’ve had Thai food for lunch you have to get in your car because even though the two places are just across the street from each other that street is six lanes of heavy traffic. And beyond that is more green space, some churches, and another shopping center that used to be anchored by the Bellevue Mall, which has since been torn down. Bellevue, by the way, is Belle Meade’s poor step-sibling. And finally after all that is the recycling center and bus stop, tucked away down a side street that overlooks a soccer field.
Yeah, now that I think about it I can understand why, with all that stuff in the way, the bus driver temporarily forgot where he was going.