His name is Maleke and he drives a tiny little bus in the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina.
I´d had a trying day. I was staying with Matt and his family in the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina. I like to ride busses where I can, whenever possible, even when an alternative is available. Yes, there was an alternative available – Matt´s mom offered us the car. But I just wanted to ride the bus, mostly because I believe in public transportation. I´m along for the ride, for the characters, for the slower pace and for the peace of mind of not having to deal with a car. I also believe that as more people demand public transportation, that it delivers a message to municipalities to extend services.
I walked out to the bus stop just in time to see the bus come zooming down the street about a block away. I stood at the stop, so happy that the timing was so good. And then . . . and then . . . the bus zoomed right on by, without even a pause. So, I ended up having a nice long two mile walk to the suburban Columbia mall. I needed the exercise anyway and I wasn´t in a hurry.
Finally, after traversing the mall, I found the bus I needed and I hopped on. I was the only white person on the bus, the other patrons were older black men, talking about beer and making jokes with one another and cute older little black women with shopping bags. The driver was nice enough and answered all my questions, including my query regarding the bus that zoomed past me earlier in the morning. ¨He shouldn´t a done that,¨said Maleke, the bus driver. ¨I bet he didn´t even see you. Call this number and tell ´em what happened, they´ll give you a free pass and maybe tell that driver to be more aware,¨ he said as he handed me a flier.
The information was nice of Maleke to give, but that´s not why he´s the best bus driver ever. At one of our stops a guy in a day-glo vest with dark sunglasses and cane got onto the bus. He said, ¨I´m trying to get to the mall.¨ Maleke told him that in order to get to the mall, he´d have to cross the street and get on the bus that was going the other way.
One of the bus patrons who´d been making jokes earlier grabbed the blind man´s hand and got off the bus with him and walked him gently across the street to the opposite stop. Maleke waited patiently for his rider to return, and only then did we all continue into town. That is why Maleke is the best bus driver ever.