lunedì 1 marzo 2010

a bus ride

Once again I'm posting something about play rather than work, but I had to fix the bus driver in my memory and if I don't write something about him he'll slip away...
This weekend we went to Champoluc in Val d'Aosta, X has a house there. I had to leave Saturday instead of Friday with F because I had work Saturday morning. Train, train, bus from Verres up the winding mountain roads to Champoluc.
On the bus we were at first the only passengers, and we sat up near the driver (F said we were vechietti, I said that if you put me in the back of the bus on mountain roads I will puke). The driver was a small man with gray hair, bald on top, bulbous nose, toothy grin. He asked us if his cigarette, which he dangled out the window while waiting for other passengers, bothered us. I thought of my roommates and said absolutely not. When we set out, he drove to the train station to check for other passengers and to take us down a parking lot ramp (Come un luna park!) as if it were a rollercoaster. Not bad, eh? he asked.
He was warm and wonderful. He asked F if he were milanese and they discussed the merits of city bus driving versus country bus driving. The autista concluded that even the higher pay could not tempt him to Milan. In Aosta the spese were low, the people were warm, life was tranquilla.
Two tween girls got on and sat directly behind the bus driver. They were obviously familiar, they spoke to him like a good friend. He asked them how their studies were going, how were their families. One of the girls began telling him about her parents, who were divorced, and their children with their new companions. He said, Oh so you have lots of brothers and sisters. And she said, No, we're not really brothers and sisters truely. And he said, But they are still the children of your mama, your papà, è sangue lo stesso, blood is blood, che mondo, carissimo amico.
Then he asked,Chi è quel ragazzo che sale ogni mattina? Anche ieri? È maleducato quello, non saluta mai, non dice niente. Ma saluta, ragazzo. Di dove sei che sei così maleducato? Ma cosa ti hanno insegnato tuoi genitori?
He complained about a boy who takes the bus every day but never says hi, never says a word of greeting. Where is he from, that he never learned manners?
At one little village he stopped the bus and noticed a girl getting off. He asked her, Can I ask you a favor? You know what it is? She said, Of course. He gave her a sack of groceries he had bought earlier in the day and told her to bring it to his wife (Sai dove abito, vero?). The girl stepped off the bus and the driver called out the window, Grazie! She replied over her shoulder, Niente! He turned to us and explained, Così mia moglie mi fa da mangiare, altrimenti mangiamo le patate e basta! (This way, my wife will make me something to eat, otherwise we would be eating potatoes and that's it!).
As we climbed further into the mountains, the height of the snow beside the road growing, the light fading away, he sang along to the songs on the radio. More people got on and off the bus, never very many. At one point he stopped the bus to let off an elderly woman. He asked her, Give me a goodnight kiss!
No, I will not.
And why not?
She replied, You know and I know that you have a wife at home.
Yes, and you have a husband, who is watching us right now!
And we turned to look out the window and sure enough, I saw a dark stooped figure in the warm orange window and the curtain fall as it was released. The old woman and the autista laughed, she made her careful way down to the curb. He turned to us, È un terrone come me! È tanto geloso, quello. (He's a redneck from the south like me, he's a jealous one alright!)
He would turn to us now and again, smiling and saying a word or two. F asked me why I was being so quiet, and I told him it was because I had to remember everything, fix it all in my memory. We had to arrive, though, and I was a little sad when we did. I had that feeling that we were friends now and that we should know each other's names or kiss goodbye or share something that meant we were more than just customers of a service. I could have stayed on that bus for a long time, my head on a warm shoulder and my ears filled with singing and friendly words.

1 commento:

  1. Rachel, you write beautifully! This post illustrates why Italy is so magical.