Sunlit Water

June 22, 2006

Late

Filed under: Urban Living — by teofilo @ 9:35 pm

They're repaving the streets in my area. I went out to catch the bus to work this afternoon only to find that the street was blocked off and actively being paved. Usually when this happens they re-route the buses onto other nearby streets, but it's never clear how far they go before turning back to the standard route, and I think the individual drivers have some discretion in the matter.

With that in mind, I set out to find a bus stop where the street wasn't being paved. I considered going to the street that was the most likely alternate route, but I wasn't sure if the bus would make regular stops there or, if it did, where they would be; as far as I know, there isn't usually a bus route on that street. So I stayed on the same street that was being paved, walked past the roadwork area, and kept walking until I got to a stop just before a major intersection. Surely, I thought, the bus won't go this far before turning. There were already a few people waiting at the stop, so I was pretty sure the bus would be coming soon.

After I had been waiting a few minutes, a guy showed up and asked if I had fifty cents for the bus. I didn't, but I had a dollar, which I gave him. He thanked me and asked how long I had been waiting; I said "five minutes or so" and he decided he had enough time to go into the convenience store across the street. He came out with an iced tea and offered me some since it was so hot and the bus wouldn't come for a while. I politely declined. He thanked me again and began talking about how when it gets hot people get tense and won't do nice things like give you money for bus fare, but he just steps back and doesn't get in any fights because he can't afford to go back to jail. I just nodded politely. Then he crossed the street again to stand in the shade (it really was quite hot).

Time went by and more people showed up, but still the bus didn't come. I began to get worried; I didn't want to show up late when I hadn't even been working a week. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and so did the other people at the stop.

Eventually, when I was already late for work, I glanced to my right, at the intersection, and saw a bus turn the corner onto our street–going away from us. I thought, could that really be the bus? Did it take the alternate route all the way up here? But I decided it must be a different bus and didn't cross the street.

A couple minutes later the guy I had talked to earlier came up to me and asked if that was our bus that had just turned the corner. I said I hadn't seen which bus it was, and the other people at the stop said they hadn't seen it at all. He was pretty sure it was our bus, though, so he and I took off and crossed the street. He stopped at a food cart and asked which bus it was; I was too impatient to bother and just kept walking down the street hoping to catch it. I had waited too long, though, and it was totally out of reach. After a few blocks I gave up and stopped at a bus stop to wait for the next one. At least I knew it would be coming down this street.

Just after I arrived another guy showed up. He waited with me for a while but was clearly in a hurry, so he hailed a passing cab. The cab didn't stop for him; it just turned the corner and kept going. I must have looked shocked, because he said, "Don't worry, happens all the time." "That sucks," I replied. He didn't answer.

We waited a few more minutes. I considered asking where he was going and if he wanted to split a cab, but none came by before the next bus. As it was approaching, he left the stop and turned the corner where the cab had gone earlier.

I got on the bus and sat down. It was mostly empty. The few people on it had been waiting with me back at the first stop, but my buddy was nowhere to be seen.

The rest of the ride was uneventful; I ended up at work fifteen minutes late, but they didn't care. They even let me leave early because there was nothing more for me to do.

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