Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too Good to be True

I am at the mercy of public transportation. I depend on it and my two legs to get around. This means primarily bus & subway. I have differing feelings toward the subway and the bus. Both are good and useful at different times. I hate both for differing and varying reasons, and worship them in different ways. It's a unique relationship, one I'm not sure I could explain adequately. But let's just say I'm totally conditioned to react to the sound of the bus. I know it so well and have fine-tuned my ears for those identifying noises it makes. Even if you can't see a bus, I will say "there's a bus nearby. I know it." You may doubt me, but sure enough, around the corner it comes. I can sense when a bus is near.

You are always having to wait for the train or the bus. wait wait wait wait wait. and wait. And there are times it never comes. There are also times when it's there RIGHT when you get there. When this happens, you shed a tear of joy, click your heels in the air, and can't wait to go home to tell someone how you just barely caught the bus or train. One of my favorite things is to be rushing down the subway steps, slide my card, go through the turnstiles, and jump on the train JUST as the doors or closing. I want to do a cheer and high five everyone on the train but so far I've only done that in my head. Actually, I have cheered before. You feel a little dumb after but i think everyone is happy for you.

Because you have to wait and wait and wait and wait, you want to be angry when your bus or train finally comes but you can't. You have to love it. Because it will carry you home. And when you finally see that broad white strip (of the top of the bus) in the distance, your heart does a little leap and is filled with warmth and gladness and all is right in the world. And i think the bus & subway drivers know this. They are the gods of public transportation. And they love it. They love that power.

Getting around is hard. Constantly there are delays or inexplicable route changes or you are kicked off the train for no reason and you have to find other means to get where you're going. Sometimes when they want to be extra cruel, you'll be standing there at a platform begging to see signs of a train approaching, and then it finally does, only to honk (which means "not stopping") and it rolls right on through the station. It's enough to shatter a person. Man, I hate when that happens.

So, i'm complaining and getting around is hard. Because this is the norm, there have been two instances that I can think of where the circumstances were too perfect. Things were TOO easy. Too convenient. I don't think the universe is pleased when these occurrences take place.

For example: Situation A

Sean and I are on the train. It's a Saturday so the trains are on the weekend schedule which means routes are different and everything is all mixed up. (Weekends are when they work on trains and perform various subway construction) Some trains run on the same track but some are express and some are local, meaning those local ones stop every 5 blocks or so while the express skip a bunch. This day we were on our usual train which is usually express but since it was the weekend, we heard from the driver that it was making local stops. Sweeeeet, this worked out because our destination was RIGHT at the street of a local stop so now we wouldn't have to make a transfer to another train!! Yesss! Little things like this make one very happy.

Well, we pulled up to the stop before ours and the doors were to open, except our door didn't open. It stayed closed and we heard the door chime and we departed. Here's a video of the door chime:

Except i don't know what that bell is about. I never hear that. But the chime is the "ding dong" sound when the doors close. Anyway, so we thought, what the? That was weird. Why would they stop there if no one could exit? Well, they better open at OUR stop. But stranger things have happened. So we pull up to our stop and again, our door stays shut. I'm starting to get very alarmed. You only have a brief window of time to exit the train before the doors shut on you. "Sean---Noooooooo!!!" I yelled and saw that all the doors EXCEPT the door near us had opened. @#$%! And we were too late to run down the car to exit through different doors and they shut and we watched our stop, our perfect stop which was just where we needed to be, fly by.

Too good to be true. It was too easy. I knew it deep down and should have known it then. But I got too excited about the idea of us having to travel a bit less than usual. Silly me. The universe got us good that time. Oh what, this train happens to be making local stops making it easy for you? Well i'll fix that and glue the doors shut--but ONLY the doors where you're standing. Oh Universe! *shaking fist*

Situation B

One hot and humid day not too long ago, I was waiting for the B65 bus to take me home. This is a good bus but it comes at a price. It takes us to our door but I have to walk about 15 minutes to get to it. I have such personal and intense feelings for the B65. (B stands for Bklyn, fyi.) Here is a picture of the B65:

Buses are super sketchy. There is a schedule that you can look at at the bus stop and even online but sometimes they are early. Sometimes they are super late. Sometimes they never come at all. There is no explanation. You're just supposed to accept it.

When I first arrived to NY, I saw a sign that said "no standing."

What the? I thought it was so weird. I can stand wherever I want to!! But then i soon learned that if you stand near a bus stop, the bus driver will think you are waiting for the bus and will pull over and you'll have to awkwardly say, "oh, i wasn't waiting for the bus" and he or she will cuss at you and you'll feel dumb.

When you're waiting for the bus, you had better be standing near the bus stop and not under an awning across the sidewalk because it's raining because the bus will drive right on by. Again, I think they love this. The power. It goes to their heads.

Add the complication of a bus stop where TWO buses stop there but ultimately have different routes. The bus drivers don't know which bus you're waiting for so they are very likely to pull over and you'll have to tell the one you don't want, "oh, sorry.. I'm waiting for the other one." And it makes it awkward for everyone. This bus stop on this hot and humid day is a B63 and B65 stop. The B63 bus comes more often than the 65, which is maddening, but whatever. So oftentimes when we see it coming I say, "Oh, it's a 63. Shun the bus!" And we literally turn our backs to it and it knows we don't want it. It's kind of a funny little dance that everyone completely understands.

When the B65 or the bus you want DOES come, it is helpful to give it a wave so they know early on to pull over. Oftentimes, the driver will hesitate not knowing if they should pull over or keep on driving. So a little wave helps. Well, the B65 drivers can be particularly ruthless in their abuse of power. Here is when I finally get to Situation B.

I was run-walking toward the bus stop. I had to round the corner. I knew it was coming soon. Go go go! I approached the intersection, looked left, and BEHOLD! The 65 was there at a light! Yessss! I LOVE when i turn and the bus is right there. Ohhh what a gift it is. The light turns green and as I approach the stop (where a woman is standing), I turn around and wave frantically at the bus. Now, keep in mind I am like 15 feet away from the stop. This is PERFECTLY acceptable because the actual stop is right behind a car. There's no way the bus can pull up RIGHT to the stop. It won't be able to go back out into traffic because of that parked car. So it always stops about FIFTEEN FEET AWAY from it! I know this. I always get on the bus at this stop. And I am there. But amazingly, miraculously, I and the woman right by me are instantly invisible because apparently the bus driver doesn't see us or my flailing arm, or he wants to be a jerk or I don't know what, but the woman who's standing at the bus waves him off and as he's pulling in, he straightens out and keeps right on going. WHAT THE!!! "Wait! WAAaaaaaaaaaait!!" i screech at it waving my arms wildly. I know he heard me. I think the bus drivers take great pleasure in just blowing people off, pretending they didn't see or hear you. I'm totally convinced of this.

But to no avail.

The woman by me and i look at each other with shock and disgust and we immediately just have to be ok with it. We resign. So again, it was too good to be true. Sure the bus was right there and i had to do literally no waiting before it got to the stop, but of course it wasn't going to stop. Get on the bus without having to wait for it? Absurd! So i walked down the road and amused myself by window shopping while i waited for the next cursed bus.

B65!!!!! *shaking fist again*


)en said...

Good heavens, my apologies for such a lengthy post. I just can't help myself i guess.

Joel said...

One of my favorites quotes from my mission is, "Where in the ninth circle of Chinese Hell is our bus?"

Ashley said...

I think that, once we can actually have a real conversation on the phone like normal people or when our internet isn't freaking out, we'll have to have a long, commiserating conversation about public transportation. I, too, am often at its mercy, so I felt for you a lot whilst reading this post.

)en said...

Yes. I am glad there is someone else in the family who understands. The ease of traveling here in Utah boggles my mind.