Mobile Metal Churchland: 12th Floor Bus

Was temping in the office building downtown where the 4 Division bus had a stop on the 12th floor. The company, progressive in their way, had decided to address tardiness by carving out a little transpo alcove to flank the re-purposed elevator well. You knew the bus was arriving when the little red beacon lights crowning the shelter began flashing their syncopated code. The elevator doors would slide open and the inverted nose of the bus would present the driver strapped into his seat like a rocket captain. You had to be pretty spry to board as the seating was now perpendicular to the ground. If you didn’t use the seat-belts a combination of hand-strapping and surfing the seat-backs would get you to the basement and through the tricky bit where the bus slowly goes down backward in a controlled slide before turning around and merging onto SE Alder.

Employees were in charge of shelter upkeep. After tinkering with the design for years they had settled on relocating their paper reams to the shelter. Rather, they made the shelter out of the ream stock. Intricate lintelworks over the three to five windows made the shelter airy and open-feeling. You could carry on a conversation with the receptionist, spy on the glass-walled meeting room across the hall and watch the muted performances therein, or graffitiize the ream wrappers as long as it wasn’t too racy or business-negative. One alcove wall became a community bulletin board. A little transistor radio with an ear-jack was stashed under the ream bench. The receptionist was good about watering the lobby plant transferred from the lobby to outer wall of the shelter. The shelter was downright cheery. We started holding staff meetings in and around the alcove, even had our little office birthday party celebrations there. 4 Division passengers who were not de-boarding at the 12th floor would look out their windows at us lounging, dancing to the transistor, eating picnic lunch on the ream bench, or just talking serious business in, around, and on our ream shelter. Sometimes they would de-board to see what was going on. We hauled in some new customers in this way. One passenger even wound up responding to a job announcement on the community board and getting a job within the company.

The temp assignment ended after ten months. Once a month the 4 Division climbs perpendicular into the sky and drops me off on the 12th floor at 5:09 p.m. to visit a few friends there. We have beers in the alcove and barbecue on the ream bench. They tell me my old position might reopen soon. My resume has been posted to the community bulletin board. My friends have been writing supportive reference-type graffiti in the shelter to plant the seed with management. Wish me luck.

About Scott Tienken

Scott Tienken is co-editor of The Cartophile Imprint, a publishing/music/and public arts website. His current novel, Mass Transportation, the second installment of his Portland Trilogy, takes place on the northbound 75 busline to St. Johns. He is founding member of the Pine Needles music collective. He is a certified city and public art project geek, works for the county library, and is looking for a chess partner. (Scott Tienken owns the copyright on all his contributions, please contact him for permission to republish).
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