I was up early today, out for a brisk walk, home, showered and out the door in good time. I was taking the bus today and planned to stop in at the Subway at the end of our street for a little Friday treat. Things were looking bright. I had plenty of time.
My commute to work consists of two buses with a transfer point in between. An eight minute car ride translates into, on average, an hour-long bus ride.
I had an option of hitting the Subway at the end of my street, or hitting the one at the transfer point. I opted for the one at the end of my street (cuz then I’d HAVE it, right?) so even though I saw a bus coming, I knew I had enough time.
But wait! I stepped just inside the Subway, only to be confronted with a line up of 6 people! This is before 8 am, mind you. Everyone else had the same idea! There seemed to be only one sandwich artist on duty, and by his perplexed looking expression, it may very well have been his first day on the job. He may have not even graduated from art school yet. Maybe he was an intern? I made a quick decision that the Subway at the transfer point would be the one for me, and I ducked back out into the street. Missing two buses as I shuffled back to the bus stop. No problem, I think I could still wait for the next ones and still make it.
I caught another one a few minutes later and I was on my way. I put my ticket in the correct slot and asked for a transfer. The bus driver did nothing except to keep his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel. I stood there for a minute until the next stop and then he looked at me and said, “Can I HELP you?”
I guess he didn’t hear me the first time. I never know really what to say to bus drivers. I suppose the most polite would be, “Could I have a transfer, please?” but that takes so much time. Sometimes there are people behind you, so I usually use the shortened “Transfer, please”. I still say please, but I get right to the point. I may have just said “Transfer” this time, which in that case the bus driver was entirely in his rights to ignore me. (Full disclosure, I was listening to the newest Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and maybe I didn’t speak up as quickly or as loudly as I should have. You can never tell how loud or soft you are when the ol’ ear buds are in, right?)
In any case, the transfer was issued and my first leg was almost complete.
My second bus comes at 8:30 am, and I arrived at the transfer point at 8:15 am. I’m cutting it a bit close, but I should still have enough time to get the sub, right? (I’m saying this more to reassure myself than anything else). I am now jogging across the street to the Subway, and just when i am about to step up onto the step, TWO OF THE BIGGEST AND SLOWEST LOOKING DUDES I’VE EVER SEEN come out of nowhere and enter just before me. The older of the two was wearing a bandana and a leather Harley Davidson jacket with a skull on the back, and the younger one was wearing sweats and a tank top. (Bikers!) These guys couldn’t have moved more slowly, and to make it worse, the sandwich artist seemed genuinely confused by their orders. She also seemed preoccupied by the fact that the bread needed to be taken out of the oven and new dough had to be inserted, and why were so many people were ordering sandwiches so early in the morning? I was beginning to regret my decision to have a little Friday treat. The clock ticked. 8:21, 8:22. I just knew that I wasn’t going to make my bus. I had that feeling. When asked if he wanted any sauces on his sub, the younger dude responded, “All of them” to which the sandwich artist tittered, “I’ve never heard that before” and the younger dude said, “I get that a lot”.
Get a room, guys!
And then it dawned on me. The date. It was Friday. It was the 13th. It was September. It was 2013. Now it all started to make sense. This day was designed to eff with me. Now I’m not superstitious, but I am just a little stitious, to misquote Steve Carell from The Office. I don’t care for black cats, (Well, I don’t care for any cats, but I especially don’t care for black ones.) (Racist!) I probably won’t walk under a ladder if given a choice and as a kid I made damn sure I didn’t step on any cracks. I guess this is just how the day was supposed to go, and I was the unwilling pawn. Maybe if I just go with the flow, things will change?
The clock struck 8:31 as my artist disappeared into the back muttering something about a “bun crisis”. Well played, world! I missed my connection.
Actually, I started to relax a little. Missing this bus wasn’t the end of the world, although it did meant that I was now in the realm of unreliable bus times and changeable routes. You think I’m joking, but I took this crazy bus a few weeks ago after hours, and even now I whisper “TOO SOON!” when asked to relate my adventures. I CAN tell you that the bus driver was the spitting image of Gandalf, minus the pointy hat, although he WAS smoking a pipe when I approached. That surely isn’t allowed, right?
In any case, the bikers moved on (and actually consumed their subs right then and there, before 9 am. Savages!) and I too, sub in hand, made my way back to the bus stops.
Keen readers will notice that I wrote STOPS, not stop, for there are actually two buses I could take at this point of my commute. Two roads diverging in yellow wood and all that. The question remained: WHICH ONE? Both routes usually go right by my library, but one is more direct than the other.
The stops are about 500 meters apart (for our American readers, I am irresponsibly guessing that is like a quarter-mile or something) which means that you can see the other stop no matter which one you are at, but they are really too far to run from one to the other if you notice a bus is coming. Since I knew I just missed the 8:30 bus, I opted to stand at the other stop, thinking that they would alternate. This is sound logic before 8:30 am, but at this point of the morning, Rod Serling steps in and all bets are off. I suppose I could stand halfway between both stops and then make a mad dash for whichever one has a bus, but there is more than one kind of bus that stops at each stop, so you could be running back and forth like a lunatic, and the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself.
I say that the buses USUALLY stop in front of my library, but every once in a while, the bus will only go as far as the nearby mall, and then turn around and head back. This happened to me once on a Friday, and I was left to walk/jog 20 minutes to work, arriving hot and sweaty and fifteen minutes late. So like I said, after 8:30, Anything Goes.
There was a woman sitting on a bench next to me that caught my attention. This is going to sound mean, but she had the appearance of a drag queen that was still trying to finalize her look. She had long, straight, wiggy blonde hair, and aggressive mascara. Her long green finger nails were fiddling with something. I minute later I could tell that she was peeling a hard-boiled egg. A brown one. Something about watching this ladyman use her long green nails to open this brown egg turned my stomach a little bit, and I had to look away. Was she going to eat it right there at the bus stop? Was she going to stick it back in her purse for later? There was an almost Gollemesque quality to the way she handled it (yes I am aware that is the second LOTR reference in this post, thanks very much!)
There’s a digital display at most of the major stops that tell you which bus to expect next and at what time. They are also notoriously unreliable. It had been saying my bus was “due” for about 10 minutes now, but nobody believes it. And if you think I was exaggerating about the uncertainty of the schedule, I was keeping one eye on the other stop (and one eye on the eggladyboy) and I noticed that not one 76 bus came by (my bus), but I counted four 75s in my time there. Is there any bus justice?
After an age (and curious readers will want to know she ate the egg right there in front of me, and then whipped out a banana for an encore), the correct bus arrived. A quick tip of the cap to the eggybananashehe and I was on my way. I approached the bus warily, but my fears were unfounded. The bus driver looked like Ricardo Montalban and when I asked him if he turned around at the mall or if he carried on down, we were initially met with what I like to call a “language barrier” but our mutual good humour and willful spirits soon determined that yes in fact this bus would take me all the way there. I almost shouted, “BUT THIS BUS LEFT ME HIGH AND DRY IN THE WINTER! I WAS LATE FOR WORK BECAUSE OF YOU!” but I just smiled and thanked him, and he gave me the warmest smile in return. They probably don’t even recognize Friday the 13th in his culture, or maybe they do and you’re supposed to smile and spread good will, if that’s the case then this guy was all over it. Still, I wasn’t going to close my eyes for too long, you never know what you’re going to miss.