For those of you who have never taken the Central Avenue bus in Albany, you are missing a real thrill. I firmly believe that every person should take the Central Avenue bus at least once in their lives. It is a haven for the bizarre, weird, and just plain outlandish.
I often took the Central Avenue bus when the weather was bad, when we had had a foot of snow and didn’t want to slip and slide my way to work on the Albany roadways. This one particular night I was coming home from work at 5 p.m. when the bus was jammed with people and we were all told to move to the back of the bus. There was reluctance to move to the back, more than the normal reluctance. I looked back and immediately recognized why. In the back seat of the bus, sitting all alone with no one sitting near him was the resident Vietnam War vet who needed more meds (no disrespect meant to the majority if Vietnam vets who are sane). This particular vet wore his uniform proudly, but talked to himself and anyone who would listen in a loud voice, saying,”I killed 10,000. I’ll kill 10,000 more.” Over and over he repeated his mantra and people kept backing away, not realizing that, as we who normally took the bus realized, this was just a typical day on the 5 p.m. Central Avenue bus.
Driving on Central Avenue was also an interesting experience. The Nazi Hunter was a fixture on his bicycle. He rode his bicycle along the avenue, with two large American flags fluttering off the back of the bicycle and a basket in front with a sign that proclaimed he was the Nazi Hunter. I’m not sure how many ex-Nazis had settled in Albany, but he was on patrol and watching out for them. He rode up and down the avenue all day long. I’m not sure what he would have done if he had found any Nazis.
The other interesting trip I had was on a plane flying from Richmond, VA to Dallas, TX after a long day of work with teachers creating the Virginia state examinations for students. I was sitting in the bulkhead seat in coach in the middle seat of three. This was before 9/11 so there was not hysteria about Muslims bombing planes. I was seated next to a man who was from the Middle East by his dress and he was obviously very nervous. He was in the window seat and clutching the arm rests with both hands. The flight was very bumpy and the seat belt light was lit the entire time. As the plane pitched and rocked its way to Dallas, this poor man held him head in his hands and rocked and loudly moaned and probably prayed the entire 3 hours to Dallas. I tried to engage him in conversation to keep his mind off the turbulence, but he didn’t speak English. If this had happened after 9/11, the entire plane would probably have been in an uproar.I really felt sorry for the guy because he obviously was not used to flying, especially in turbulent weather. I only hoped that his final destination ws Dallas and he didn’t have to get back on another plane to somewhere.
Every form of transportation has it’s funny or bizarre moments and these were just some of the ones that I had the pleasure of experiencing.