Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Tim Character Analysis

Tim, whom Beth calls “Happy Timmy” and everyone else calls “Professor,” is the first bus driver that Rachel profiles in depth. He’s mild-mannered, extremely upbeat, and knowledgeable about a wide range of topics because of his lifelong interest in history, archaeology, and photography. He goodheartedly lectures Beth about the importance of being kind, and he tells Rachel that he loves driving the bus because it allows him to follow all the little details of everyday life in the city. For instance, he knows all of his passengers’ names and loves nothing more than hearing their stories. Tim’s ideas provide the foundation for Rachel’s conclusions about why good bus drivers play such a valuable role in their community: they bring positivity into passengers’ lives, they link people together because they know so many, and they store living memories about the histories of the places where they drive.

Tim Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Tim or refer to Tim. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grand Central Publishing edition of Riding the Bus with My Sister published in 2013.
4. February: The Professor Quotes

“Yeah,” she says with a quick nod. “He’s cool.

Ah, yes. Cool. As my speech might sometimes seem unintelligible to Beth, so can hers seem to me, because Beth has her own lingo. And in Beth-speak, as I have gathered from her letters, “cool” does not concern hip attire or trendy indifference. Instead, it is the term of highest approval, bestowed only upon those people Beth deems worthy of her attention and trust, and crucial if one is to be promoted into her personal Top Ten (though, in truth, hip-hop shades or chiseled Brad Pitt features—neither of which the Professor possesses—are apt to increase the likelihood of admission). “Yes,” I say. “I guess I do mean he’s cool.”

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth (speaker), Tim
Related Symbols: Letters and Cards
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

“Every day right here in this seat, I have history riding with me.

And that’s what I like about it. There’s so much richness on a bus—really, so much richness everywhere—if you just develop the ability to look at life with a different eye, and appreciate the opportunities offered to you.”

Related Characters: Tim (speaker), Rachel Simon, Beth
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
18. July: The Optimist Quotes

Beth has sought out mentors in places where others might not look, and, moreover, taken the time, and endured the pain, to weed out those drivers who are decent and kind and reflective from those who are indifferent or hostile. The ones I’m meeting are, I realize as I quickly do the math, only about a sixth of the whole bus company. That took Beth a huge amount of trial and error—and, yes, determination. I shake my head, amazed at how much I’d somehow missed, and then, with a surge of optimism, wonder if one out of six people in any profession or community would also be exceptionally thoughtful. How could I really know? Have I ever spent this much time exploring the worldviews of my colleagues at school or the bookstore? Do I have a clue about whether my neighbors feel committed to the Golden Rule?

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Bailey, Claude, Tim, Jacob, Estella, Rodolpho, Rick
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
36. January: Beyond the Limits of the Sky Quotes

There is just enough sun left for me to make out a silvery bus, moving like a fish, winding between the curbs. Maybe a bus where my sister sits. […] To the east, there’s another, and another, and another. Each one its own private history class, or luncheonette, or quilting bee, or schoolroom, or comedy theater—yet each one linked, one person at a time, to all the others. Because I can see, as Rick points it out, how they glide along, stopping for riders—riders who might have been on that run last year and are now over here, and riders from over here who might be transferring to a bus over there—and how the journeys seem separate, yet are constantly and inextricably joined together. I step back and take in all the buses coasting and turning and stopping and going—the enormous web of the world.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Rick, Tim
Page Number: 333-334
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Riding the Bus with My Sister LitChart as a printable PDF.
Riding the Bus with My Sister PDF

Tim Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Tim appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. February: The Professor
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
...Beth tells Rachel all about each bus driver. Then, their bus arrives. The driver is Tim, a good-humored, bookish 40-something whom Beth calls “Happy Timmy” and other bus drivers call the... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Tim affectionately teases Beth about her habit of riding empty routes and knowledge about all the... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...notes that she usually simplifies her sentences for Beth, but she starts wondering if, like Tim, she should use her usual complicated vocabulary instead, which helps Beth learn. She calls Tim... (full context)
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
During a brief layover along his route, Tim tells Rachel about his past: he always loved learning and wanted to become a historian,... (full context)
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Passengers start boarding the bus, and Tim greets each by name. Rachel tries to pay attention to the details: their faces and... (full context)
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Then, an elderly passenger named Norma tells Tim and Beth that today would be her anniversary. She and other passengers share memories of... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
The passengers disembark, until only Rachel, Beth, and Tim are left. While the bus waits for passengers at the mall, Tim tells Rachel that... (full context)
9. April: The Dreamer
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...on the bus, but then she remembers that she has learned important lessons from both Tim and Jacob. (full context)
37. A Year and a Half Later: The Miracle Maker
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...about everything that has changed since her year riding the buses with Beth. For instance, Tim had another child, Rodolpho joined the police force, and Cliff became a mechanic. Rachel has... (full context)