So, I’m still drowning in phlegm and cough-drop wrappers, and I couldn’t come up with a good idea for a post, so I decided to tap into my list of “times I was a spaz and did stupid things” and tell you about that.
I have told you that I hate mornings and that I live very, VERY far north of my school.
Well, these things didn’t mix well on several occasions.
The most notable of these mishaps was the first of the two times I had to take the city bus to school; I would just like to remind you that, before this year, I lived in a postage-stamp town where everything was within walking distance. There were no buses. I was new to public transit.
Unfortunately, I am someone who, to cover up my insecurities and anxiety, fills myself with false confidence and cockiness.
So, I boarded the bus that morning with a spring in my sauntering, confidence-filled step.
All went well on the bus ride to the transfer plaza. I found the right place and waited for the #44 that was to take me to school.
After about ten minutes, the bus pulled up, and I boarded it with a grin, the flashing #44G going over my head. Literally and figuratively.
I sat in the middle of the bus, my backpack on the seat next to me to prevent any unwanted seat-partners, and I waited for my stop while listening to the possibly demented old lady have a very cheerful and loud conversation with the bus driver.
We came to the split; the bus could either go up B or G. I sat up straighter; as soon as the bus turned onto B, I would have to get off soon.
That was about when I realized that the bus was in the wrong lane. To go up B, it should be in the right lane; it was in the left.
Ah, well, I rationalized. I’m sure the bus driver will switch lanes in just a second.
The bus driver didn’t switch lanes.
As the bus cruised up G, I continued to rationalize to myself. No, no, I’m sure it’ll be fine. I can just get off at the park. I know the way to the school from there. Yeah, I’ll just get off at the park.
All but one of the other passengers had gotten off at this point. There was no longer a loud and cheerful conversation to distract me from my increasingly panicked state.
We passed the stop at the park; I hadn’t noticed it until we came to it. It was too late to stop.
There must be another stop up here in a bit, I thought anxiously. I’ll get off there! Yeah, it’ll be fine. I’ll just get off there!
That wasn’t going to happen. The bus turned left at the stop light.
I now had no idea where I was.
The last passenger got off, leaving me the lone passenger on the bus.
The bus driver glanced back at me in the mirror a couple times, and once opened his mouth as if he was going to ask me if I knew where I was going. He didn’t ask me, presumably assuming that, if I was still here and I hadn’t said anything for this long, I knew where I was going.
Oh, how wrong that was.
The bus, heading further north and further away from where I wanted to be, pulled in at a park and ride. A voice echoed from the speakers.
“This bus will now become the #34,” it said in a feminine monotone. “The #34 will continue north-bound at 8:25.”
The number 34? All fake, reassuring feelings of confidence and control left me. I was officially panicking. I was late for school, and heading completely in the wrong direction.
It didn’t even occur to me to mention anything to the bus driver. I stayed where I was, paralyzed, with my mind racing with possible ways to get myself out of this situation.
I kept coming up empty. All I knew was I had to get off. Soon.
The #34 departed at 8:25, as promised. And continued heading north, as promised.
We kept going for about a half an hour. Finally, we stopped at the community college–and the monotone announced to me that this bus would now be changing to the #33 and continue northbound.
I high-tailed it off of that bus, reasoning that the college and its clocktower were easily recognizable. Yes, this would be a perfectly suitable place to get off the bus.
At least it was better than going on north; I was already a good twenty or thirty miles AWAY from the school.
I sat on the bench and dialed the school’s number. The secretary picked up. I listened to her customary greeting and said,
“Hey, Mrs. P, I’m lost. Could you find Dad for me?” I was perfectly calm at this point, having once again assumed control over my own fate.
Mrs. P was actually much more worried about me than I was; she found Dad and put him on the phone.
Dad: “Hi. Are you okay? Where are you?”
Me: “Um, yeah, I’m fine. I got a little lost … I’m at the community college. Up north.”
There was a pause. I could practically hear Dad thinking about how very, very far away that was from the school.
Dad: “The one with the clock tower?”
Me: “Yup. That’s the one.”
Dad: “Okay, I know where you are. Do you have any money for bus fare to get back up here?”
I sighed. Me: “Nope. Mom only gave me enough for the buses to the school. Besides, I don’t know that I can figure out which bus to take from here to get back.”
Dad: “Oh. Okay. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes. Sit tight.”
I hung up the phone. True to his word, Dad was there in about fifteen minutes. I got into the car and there was a moment of silence.
Dad: “How did this happen?” He didn’t sound upset. Mostly just curious. There was, perhaps, a note of relief in his voice, but I’m not sure.
Me: “Um … the bus went up G instead of B, and I missed the one stop where I knew how to get to the school.”
Dad: “Oh. Okay.”
He bought himself a latte and me a hot chocolate, and we drove back to the school.
I was an hour late and a little frazzled, and explaining to everyone what had happened was a little embarrassing.
The teachers, especially Mrs. P, informed me how surprised they were at how calm I was, and how they would’ve been hysterical.
I shrugged and omitted telling them that I had been very, very panicked on the bus ride itself.
I took the bus a second time that year, and this time the bus went up B, and the ride went smoothly, with no mishaps–and that was when I realized.
The first time, the #44 I had taken had really said “#44G,” and the second time, the bus I took was the “#44B.”
G and B. For the street names.
Ah, well. Nothing bad came of that little adventure.
But it would do well for me to pay a little more attention to detail, I suppose.