Circus Bus

Today was doomed from the start.

I was running late. This happens a lot. I know, I know, I have no one to blame but myself. But anyway, I was running late. And when one is taking the bus to and from Boston, one does not have the luxury of running late. The bus I take in the morning is the only real option for me, the next nearest route is almost a mile away (which isn’t really a problem) and doesn’t start running until after 8:30 AM (that’s a problem). The bus I do take has stops just a couple blocks away from my apartment. However, it only comes three times in the morning towards Boston, and three times in the evening towards the suburbs.

Anyway, I was running late. And as I get when I’m running late, I start to panic. First sign of panic – I consciously chose the red shirt, then grabbed the blue one. Second sign of panic – For the life of me, I could not attach the right strap to my bra (I have this “convertible” thing from Victoria’s Secret that is very comfortable, but all detaches from itself when it’s not on for no good reason). The signs continued from there.

Much to Mike’s dismay, I haven’t put away all of my laundry yet, so my jeans were downstairs. So here I was, grabbing at a couple hair ties and running downstairs wearing a half-detached bra, red t-shirt, and underwear, but no pants. Good thing we got those drapes! I pulled on my jeans, and realized that I didn’t have my jersey. Right! I forgot to tell you – Mike and I have tickets to tonight’s Red Sox game.

I ran up the stairs, and on the way decided I’d probably be cold if I only wore short sleeves tonight. So as I entered the bedroom, where Mike was still peacefully sleeping, I pulled off the red t-shirt. I threw it on top of the blue one on the shelf in the closet, whose light was still on, and then pulled my long-sleeved red Red Sox shirt over my head. Turn off the light, run down the stairs, snag purse, run down the stairs.

Some part of my deranged panicked mind decided that I had no time to put on real shoes, or even Birkenstocks. As I slipped my feet into the ready flip flops (my podiatrist would so kill me if she knew!), I looked down and saw that my shirt was on inside out. “No time!” I thought. Then I came to my senses and redressed myself. Out the door, lock the door, run.

I looked at my cell phone as I ran down the hill to the main road. It was one minute past the start of the bus route. I really have no idea where the bus actually starts. I originally thought it started at the school at the foot of the hill I live on, but it turns out that that school is not the only thing in the area that shares a name with the bus route. But with the bus having left it’s starting point only one minute ago, I thought I’d probably make it. I slowed to a trot and when I reached the bus stop, I bent over to roll up my jeans (which were dragging on the ground – they weren’t meant for flip flops).

It was at this point that I realized that I had forgotten my baseball cap (it is such a good thing I put my game ticket in my bag last night, or I’d be seriously pissed off right now). But it was far too late now. I was fairly certain I hadn’t missed the bus. I can see the street from the hill once I pass around the leasing office. I would have seen it go by if I had missed it. But I knew I was already pressing my luck. The bus arrived just as I pulled a dollar coin out of my purse.

As I dropped the coin into the device that collects coins at the front of the bus, the driver pointed out the new schedules. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d be done riding her bus by the end of this week (and hopefully this was the last time – Maaco better not have lied to me), so I picked up a schedule and sat down. I scanned the schedule and found nothing had changed. I turned it over and spotted the fare chart. Oops! Apparently I’d been underpaying for my bus ride every time. I didn’t mean to! No one corrected me! I’m sorry!

Normally, I have a bit of breakfast as I leave the house in the morning. If I’m driving, it’s a granola bar and a string cheese stick. And on the bus, I’ve been bringing some wheat crackers and cheese. My panicked brain didn’t let me stop for ten seconds to pick up so much as a fruit leather. So instead of eating breakfast, I occupied myself with attempting to tame my conditioner-free hair (that’s right, panicked Diane didn’t condition her hair today either).

I settled into my seat, and selected some Holy Cole on my iPod. She has a soothing effect on me, and I figured I probably needed that. I leaned against the window, and watched the regulars come on board. There’s this group of ladies that sits up in the front of the bus every day. They appear to be bus buddies. They aren’t the only people I see every day, but they are the hardest to miss. They chat with the driver and each other, talking about who knows what (I have some seriously nice headphones), but they’re always happy and usually laughing.

As we pulled up to the entrance of an apartment complex near the end of the stop-and-go part of the route, they noticed something flitting about. There was a moth on the bus. I pulled off my ear phones to take in the scene in its entirety. One lady freaked out, squealed, and tried to bat at it with the pile of schedules she had initially sat on when she got on board the bus. The others teased her for being afraid of a silly little moth, while she insisted it was huge. One cool and collected lady picked up a schedule, opened it up, and unceremoniously trapped the moth against the window. *SQUISH!*

“We got your bus dirty!”
“Poor little moth.”
“Eww! It’s under your shoe!”
“It’s dead already, I don’t care.”

I couldn’t see the driver’s face, but I could imagine the look as she shook her head and said, “This sure is the circus bus!”

Obviously things like this have happened before.

Things calmed for a little while, and we were just finishing up the route. This is one of them North Shore routes. They all go about their business, zig-zagging back and forth across various towns, and finally hop on the Tobin Bridge to finish the trip into Haymarket. The Tobin, however, has been going under some road construction. Some seriously annoying road construction. The kind that really puts a damper on your commute. I hit that traffic the day they started the construction – it was the day I brought my car in for an estimate. It was ridiculous! Usually, there’s like 4 or 5 cars waiting to pay the toll in each lane. It doesn’t really slow anyone down at all. But with the “paving project” going on, a 20 jaunt to the city is more likely to take 45.

Anyway, the bus usually comes around at the route 60 rotary – that’s where it gets on route 1. I was, and still am, pretty sure that from 60 west, 1 south is the first exit off the rotary. (Tom Tom would say, “cross the roundabout, first exit, us [not U. S.] one sa-ooth-bound.”) I thought maybe I had gotten confused and we were still back a couple rotaries (we probably hit more than 4 on the route), because here we were, taking the second exit.

I was puzzled, but continued to drift in and out of day dream state. I finally realized that, indeed, we were off the route! I pulled off my headphones just in time to hear the driver say something about ignoring the people waiting at the stop because we were “out of her jurisdiction.” The signs told us we were headed for the airport!

The friendly gentleman behind me noticed that I had emerged from my musical cocoon. He told me that the driver said she was trying a different way into the city, in order to avoid the Tobin. We’d be taking “the tunnel.” I immediately thought of the poor lady who died in one of the tunnels not too long ago. My brain slipped back into panic mode, and I wondered if Mike would even know that I was on the bus that got destroyed by another ceiling collapse – my bus wasn’t supposed to go through the tunnels!

Luckily, there wasn’t so much traffic out by the airport, and we were soon in and through the Sumner. I was relieved that we were taking one of the old tunnels. That seems wrong. But seriously, the big dig frightens me.

We followed the signs to Government Center, and were soon out on surface streets. Of course, this is Boston, and it’s not a blizzard, so there was road construction. And directing traffic around the construction was a cop, complete with reflector suspenders. The special ed ladies at the front of the bus started imitating the motions of the traffic cop, and it caught his attention. As we were stopped, our special ed driver opened the door, and the cop came aboard to take a bow. I’m pretty sure the entire bus was laughing now. No one was upset, we were actually arriving in Boston early!

As we got off, I heard someone say, “That was the best bus ride ever.” There were no children on the bus this morning.

August 31st, 2006 • 8:40 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Sports

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