I’m a bus driver. For over 15 years, I’ve been driving a bus for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, otherwise known as the MTA, in New York City. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve been asked why I don’t work for Monsey Trails or the Boro Park–Williamsburg line, I’d be rich. Of course, I’m not rich yet, but between the salary and the generous pension, I do all right.
Though I’m not driving for Monsey Trails, my route passes through a nice chunk of “heimish” areas; it traverses the streets of Boro Park, then takes me to Gravesend and all the way down to Sheepshead Bay. On any given day my bus is filled with an assortment of “unzere.”
There are a couple of rebbes who don’t drive and take public transportation to their yeshivos, Bais Yaakov girls with student MTA cards on their way to school, and much later, harried mothers lugging double strollers with squalling toddlers.
Though officially my job description doesn’t include helping my passengers with their bags, I consider it my special mitzvah. By now I’m on a first-name basis with my regulars and chummy with the others.
There’s Yaakov, a tall, lanky bachur who lives in Gravesend with his Russian grandmother and attends a yeshivah in Kensington. I know he’s going places because he recently aced his Gemara test and got accepted to a top yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael. Not bad for a young man who was in a crime-ridden Brooklyn public school four years ago. “You know,” he once told me, “you’re the least grumpy driver I’ve ever seen.”
“Why should I be grumpy when my arms and legs still work and I can spend my days taking you to yeshivah so that I can earn part of your reward?” I responded.