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Friday, February 15, 2008Toca Piano
It was freezing, the kind of arctic cold that chafes you right through your jeans.
The bus was late and because of that there was a larger than average crowd. Everyone piled on the bus not wanting to be left behind on the school campus, grateful to be out of the cold. The driver pressed whatever it is he needed to press to get the doors closed but it was a no go. The doors refused to close.
After several attempts and colorful curses he got off the bus and tried to fix the problem from the outside. He managed to get them closed manually but when he tried to open them to get in the bus they refused to budge. He tried his keys several times but the doors refused to obey and adding insult to injury some of the passengers started to laugh when they realized he was locked out of the bus. Several of the passengers tried to pry the door open from the inside to no avail. Nobody was laughing now, especially the driver. Finally the he kicked the bus and walked off into the night without a word. Necks strained watching him walk away. Our asses were stuck like sardines in a can. The bus was totally silent for a few seconds until cell phones were whipped out in a mass calling frenzy. Thirty minutes went by and there was no sign of the driver.
Suddenly a man I recognized as a professor pushed his way to the front of the bus with a Swiss army knife in his hand. He slid his hand around a panel to the left of the steering wheel before he found what he wanted. Less than a minute later not only did he have the bus doors opened but he managed to get it running and turned on the heat on for us. The passengers went wild. As he went past me I touched his arm and asked, “Professor how did you do that?!” He wiggled his fingers in the air as if he were playing a piano and leaned to whisper in my ear,”Nena once upon a misspent youth I was a toca piano.” and then straightened up. “A what?” I asked. “You’re Boriqua right?” “Yeah” “Ask your mother she’ll know what that is.” He winked at me and put his index finger against his lips as if letting me know this bit of info was just between us the only Latinos on the bus. The bus driver arrived several minutes later with a crow bar in his hand. He stopped in front of the bus and looked amazed. He took his seat and before driving off said to no one in particular, “I don’t even want to know.”
I called mom as I walked home, “Woman what the heck is a toca piano?” My mom started laughing, “Wow that’s old school! I haven’t heard in a long time!” “Doesn’t it mean piano player ma?” “Well yeah, but if you do the hand movement it’s street slang for a thief, car thief mostly.” I explained to her what had happened. “When he said it did he do a hand movement to go along with it?” “Yeah ma he did.” “Well sweetie it seems your professor has had an interesting life!”
Labels: bus stories
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