We had an unusually cold winter. The homeless problem was worse than ever–people being on the street. The state was doing a good job of giving out food and clothes. Jobs were down, they’re up now for summertime, but they’ll go back down again. RIPTA’s gone up again–it used to be 10 cents for a transfer, now it’s 50 cents. There should be some type of bracelet, I know you can get the 10 ride cards and the 15 ride cards, but there should be two free transfers or something like that, ’cause say it’s late at night and the last bus is here and you only have $1.50 and you need a dollar. You’re stuck, you could be stuck for 7 hours, especially if you have to go to Newport or something.
The next day Q set to work finding people to agree with him. Spring is the time to rustle things up in New England, between the ice melting and the fights starting. Because the weather is always changing, you can always use it as a reason not to do something, so you have to do it when the air is slightly hopeful.
Q texted his cousins what to put up on Facebook and Instagram, and some of them actually did it. The library printed some notices for him. He said to everybody downtown, “If somebody gives you money, give them this.” He asked around until he found somebody whose brother drove on the 56 and 57 buses, and asked them to pass on the plan to as many drivers as he thought he could trust.
The second thing that happened was that everybody got on the bus. Everybody got on every bus. When the people from one stop got off at the next, there was another line of people waiting to get on. Mostly they were polite, except for one or two people who were out of it and started cursing. Mostly they were quiet, except when people who got on at the Hmong church on Dexter started praying, or when a group of kids who got on at Hope High School–they weren’t planning to be part of the ride, they were just on their ways home–tried to force music out of their earbuds for everyone to hear.
The day of riding slowed things down, not only for the better. RIPTA wrote a “doctor’s note” to bosses and school principals that day and posted it on its website, but that didn’t help the woman who had to wait an extra hour for her caregiver to help her clean herself and dress, or the daycare centers that had to stay open nearly two hours later. “We’re who you said this is for,” they said angrily and publicly, “we’ll work with you, just let us know next time.” So Q did.