gall and gumption

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bus Ride 2

My days begin in sorrow and woe and regret. I wake up between 2 and 4 a.m. and then lie around and read or write in bed, and then I doze off again and wake up much too late. In other words I oversleep almost every day but not really because of the waking up in the small hours thing. Then it's a mad scramble to get dressed and take the dogs out. The thing about walking these dogs is that they actually expect variety and interest in their daily life, so we don't walk the same route. Mischa is so used to the neighborhood now that she will actually continue to enjoy herself after 20 minutes or so (when we take a walk from somewhere we've driven in the car she can only go about 20 minutes before the anxiety makes her start looking for it and then you are fighting to drag her in any direction that is not toward the car), and Sweetie of course would happily roam all over the suburbs of DC if I were so disposed, and she is always hoping I am so disposed. Failing that, now that it is spring, she rolls out her whole repertoire of exceeding cutenesses to keep us out as long as possible. But nevertheless we must press on. Then it's home, and then I'm hurrying up the hill to the bus stop.

I know that terrible things happen all over the world but the feeling I get when I see the bus fly by the stop and me still half a block away is just horrible, it is like being rejected in love, only (mercifully) it doesn't last as long. So I get to the bus stop feeling crushed and stupid. My office mate, a level-headed young woman from Spain, says the feeling is remorse: "If only I had gotten out of bed a few minutes sooner! If only I had not stopped to look for [name non-essential thing]! If only I hadn't misplaced the [name essential thing]! And so there I am at waiting for the next bus.

All this would be bad enough but what makes it worse is that the buses are at least as unreliable as I am. I've waited out there for 20 minutes, which means it takes me longer to travel the 1.5 miles to the station than it does for me to ride the train all the way downtown. What's worse is that there is an alternative bus that comes a block away and takes a different, shorter route, and as I stand at the stop on the corner of my street I have to debate with myself whether I should hurry down the block to that stop and increase my chances--but what if the 12 shows up just as I'm in the middle of the block? Or, oh it's going to be here any second now, just wait! And so there have been times when, while waiting for the 12, I've seen two 25s go by. I don't know how I keep my sanity. I'm not alone in this frustration. There's a whole army of us who face this every day. I could list all my conjectures about the reason why the bus is so unpredictable but basically when I'm standing at the bus stop in the cold I'm pretty sure it's just that God hates me.

Well a couple mornings ago I waited oh I don't know 12-15 minutes or so for the bus (perhaps if I were a more exact observer of time I might be better at catching buses), and then I saw it, the 12, and, incredibly, right behind it, another 12. So apparenty the one that was supposed to get here at 8:45 got here at the same time as the one that was due 20 minutes later. The 8:45 didn't stop, but the 9:05 did, and so I was on my way. When I got downtown I stopped at the little bakery where I get coffee on my way to work and My Friend the Bakery Guy was there. He works the register, and we always chat a little, I'm not sure exactly when it started but for some reason our very brief conversations about nothing always seem to end in giggles. And now we call each other affectionate nicknames like "babe," and "kiddo" and "hon," and "dear", and the pace of the chat is just right. So I told him about the two buses arriving late that morning, and there really wasn't time to go into the kind of detail I've given you here but I can pack a lot of whining into a small space, you know. He listened to me, and then when I was finished he looked fixedly at me a moment and then said, "You're gonna let it go, right?" Of course I wasn't, but then, well, yes, what else could I do? "Yes," I sighed. "All right, then," he said approvingly. So the only reason I'm telling you this is because of what he said.


At 9:13 PM, Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

For me the missing the bus thing goes way past remorse into bottomless panic. It was a recurrent dream years ago, and probably still is, but takes different forms.

Excellent to find folks like that guy. When I lived in NY, I felt surrounded by people of quick and seasoned sense. Still not sure I was wrong.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Kia said...

I get the "missing the bus" one too, though it's usually a train or a flight, and usually because I've misplaced something crucial like a person or my passport. I also get the "can't find the clean restroom" dream which usually has something to do with having to get up and actually pee in real life. That one is--uh, interesting.

I think you were right about New York. Also people who knew useful things, like the deli guy near the J-school who showed me the difference between salsa and merengue.

And, yeh, I can see why you might miss it where you are. The place has its own FARK tag after all.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Max said...

these are lovely, I hope there are more of them.--Max

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Lee Hartmann said...

This was very nice (sorry for the banality). My nightmares are continually being late for something and frantically trying to work through the molasses or whatever is slowing me down to get done.

one of the virtues of the intertubes is that one can find passages of grace via random byways.

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