Welcome to Friday’s The Tribe* Story Letter
The Most Important Man in Alexandria
Always be kinder than necessary.
I didn’t get his name or badge number, but I firmly believe that today—Friday, January 6—he provided the greatest job in the town of Alexandria, Louisiana.
The freezing rain began just as his city bus pulled into the main terminal adjacent to the Red River levee. The warm terminal was crowded with homeless men. It’s a bitter cold day and everyone is looking for some shelter from the storm. I sat quietly among the men. In my jeans, old Carthart jacket, and scuffed boots, I fit in pretty well. Except for one thing: I was the only white and had truck keys in my pocket.
My adopted city of Alexandria is a black town and nowhere is that more evident than in the city’s public transportation system. I’m astounded at how many working folks depend on the buses.
Today, I’ve chosen to ride the Jackson Street Extension/Lower Third bus route. It cuts a swatch across all areas of Alex. I’m not riding out of necessity: My truck is parked three blocks away. Today, I needed a long bus ride to think, journal, and observe the different world outside my doorstop.
None of my homeless neighbors in the terminal board the bus. They had a free warm spot to spend the day, and I don’t blame them.
I dropped my three quarters in the slot and found a comfortable seat midways back. Pulling out my journal, I began sketching the scenes around me. Over the next hour, I observe a constant flow of riders hurrying in and out of the sleet and snow.
A lady hops off at Walgreen’s and re-boards on the buses’ return loop. An older man climbs on with two armloads of Kroger bags. He’s stocking up for the long icy weekend.
At each stop, the boarding ramp lowers to the accompaniment of air brakes. The driver, a man about my age, says “Watch your step.” I wasn’t sure if this was his normal statement or had to do with the ice forming on the sidewalks.
Eventually, we complete our orbit around central Alexandria and arrive back at the main terminal. I wait until the other passengers exit, and stop at the driver’s door. “Sir, I hope you realize what an important job you’re doing today.”
He shrugged. “I hope so.”
“You’re getting people in and out of the weather, so they can go about their daily lives. That’s especially essential on a day like today.”
I put my hand on his arm. “I believe that today you have the most important job in Alexandria.”
His eyes misted over and he looked me in the eye. “Sir, you don’t know how much that means to me.”
“Well, I mean it with all of my heart.” I bounded off the bus with a little extra bounce in my step, and truth be told, my eyes were a little misty, too.
Another load of cold Alexandrians boarded the Jackson St./Lower Third Bus. Above the hiss of the air brakes and roaring diesel engine, I hear my driver say, “Be careful there, Ma’am. Those steps are mighty slippery.”
What would you say
If I told you that I won’t be by today
Would you say that
I’m just a bus driver
And what do I know
Just a bus driver
And what do I know
-“Bus Driver” by Derek Webb
Read full lyrics to “Bus Driver” by Caedmon’s Call.
View You Tube video of “Bus Driver.”
*The Tribe is the name of our Friday Story Letter.
We thank the several thousand of you who read this weekly.
In 2017, we’ll be asking you to serve as a member of The Creekbank Tribe.
Here is how you can be involved:
- Pray for DeDe and me in our work and my writing in 2017. Main prayer need: God’s guidance about Curt’s trip to April in late Fall.
2. Your help in publishing our upcoming novel, As the Crow Flies. We’ll be asking you to pre-order copies, write reviews, and get the word out. My agent has dropped me and no publisher has been willing to publish it. This means we’ll get this important (and captivating) story out as a Tribe. Stay tuned for details.
3. Would you be willing to write an Amazon review for any/all of our twelve books you’ve read? Your review should be honest and doesn’t need to be flowery or long. Thanks in advance,
4. My keyword in 2017 is Transparency. I want to live in a state of openness and integrity in my writing, speaking, and lifestyle.
LYRICS: BUS DRIVER