The Journey – Part 1

The plan is for me to get out of work on time, hit a bus, a train, a train and a bus to start my weekend at the beach. Now that doesn’t sound all too taxing. Pretty much a lot of sitting. It’s not until you add a few factors into the mix when things can turn hairy.

Things such as I have to catch the first bus ten minutes from the time I close for the day. The stop is only two minutes away so the only thing that can go wrong is customers. If one of those bastards lingers after hours, even after my not so gentle exhortations, it’ll make me miss the bus. So that’s the first obstacle. There are others until I get to the final bus. Late trains, getting caught in heavy but slow foot traffic that you just can’t find a spot to blow past, your own failure to keep up a hefty walking pace, and please don’t have me run into anyone I know while I’m foot bound. It happened once and the person was so pissed (or so they said in an email I looked at days later) after I said,

“Hi. Don’t have time. Say it to me in an email.” While blowing past them.

From the time the first bus leaves I have one hour and five minutes to accomplish this task. And it all begins back at work.

It’s thirty minutes before closing. I see that people are getting closer to wrapping up their day in plenty of time. I begin shutting down my day counting off the minutes. Now I know anything can go wrong in this time period (and by wrong I mean some idiot comes in) but, at this moment, all cues are in place.

Sixteen minutes to closing the front door opens. I say bad words in my head. I say more bad words in my head when I see who it is. Please, let me explain my heady outburst. Yesterday this same person came in asking to buy boxes. Simple, cardboard boxes. I point him to the display that he just walked past. He wandered over, stared at the five choices then went about inspecting said boxes as if they were the Hope diamond. Checking all angles, thumping it for some unknown to humans reason, shaking it (huh? As my Zen master Wong says, “Empty boxes contain no sound. Why the hell are you shaking it, jackass?” Wong’s a good Zen master but he has a pretty short fuse).

He then puts the box he wants on the counter. An unnecessary step. Do you know why? The name of the box is plastered across the front of the box. Say the name and the box whore will go gather it. I don’t need to see the physical manifestation of  the box. I am aware of what the damn box looks like, jackass. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

After he places the box on the counter he says, “I’d like. . .”

And then he spends the next twenty seconds (and I am not exaggerating) staring at the box. Twenty seconds. Do you know how long that is when a person is staring at a box? It’s twenty fucking seconds too long, let me tell you. Don’t believe me? Stop reading now and stare ahead for twenty seconds. You started to lose it after ten, didn’t you? No? It wasn’t that long? Okay, send me your address. I’ll visit you and punch you in the head for twenty seconds. Do you think it’ll fell long then? Glad you got my point.

So this is the obstacle I have between me and bus #1. He comes in and I see what transaction is going to take place. I estimate a time and feel his completion of it will fall within a comfortable spot. Which proves what a fucking idiot I am.

My first inkling that something was about to go awry was when someone grabbed the doorknob to my office. In my experience when that happens someone is panicked. First because they’ve never touched that door before and second because the door they have always opened to discuss issues with me is right next to it. After a beat he opens the correct door, sticks his head inside and says,

“I forgot my keys. I have to go back to my house.”

I don’t panic. I’m no rookie. I look at that guy and say,

“You really are a fucking moron, aren’t you?”

No, I didn’t say that! That would be rude! Correct, but rude.

Instead I looked at the clock, twelve of , twenty-two minutes to bus #1, and say,

“You have ten minutes.” He swiftly exits and I continue moving my work day closer to completion.

Three minutes to closing and the group here completes their task and waves me a grand goodbye. Two minutes to closing the front door opens and the key forgetting box inspector enters. Wordlessly (Zen master Wong taught me that. “If you can’t say anything pleasant to another remain quiet and seethe.” He really is full of wisdom) I guide his entrance to the building. I lock the door as he goes about his task and I end my day.

And wait.

I’m watching him on the camera and he’s moving. In a sloth like manner. But it’s still movement. Two past the hour. Eight minutes to bus #1. Four past the hour. It looks as if he’s nearing completion. But he stops. Why are you stopping? Please don’t think about why you’re stopping. I sure as shit don’t have time for that level of contemplation. Six past the hour. He reaches the front
of the building. I begin to tidy up after him and quickly get to the absolute end of my work day. Eight past the hour I am out the door. Two minutes to go two minutes. Piece of cake.

Unless the bus driver, as often happens, decides to leave a touch early. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned the corner just in time to watch the bus pull away. But I don’t think that will happen today. I have faith that I can make it.

If this damn customer would stop talking to me! I’m trying to get past but he wants a little chat time. What he doesn’t know is, as mentioned earlier, I’m an on the fly chat off expert. My feet don’t stop as I wittily respond to his statements but, possibly before he knows I’m gone, I’m in the street heading for the first of many finish lines.

I turn the corner and the bus is there. The traffic is in my favor so I dash across the street and get to the bus just as the driver was reaching for the lever to shut the door. I calmly slap my card on the reader, the ching of money being spent is heard and as he pulls away I glide to my seat.

I now have sixty-five minutes to make it to my final bus.

The ride to the first train station is rapid and uneventful. We’re making good time. I’m counting down and we’re on schedule. We pull into the first train station and I rush in, turn the corner and notice that all the turnstiles are blocked off by temporary fences. This stops me in my tracks, obviously. I look around trying to see what the issue is when I see it. The sign that is the bane of the harried commuters existence.

“Station closed. Shuttle bus this way.”

Not a shuttle bus?!??!?!?!

End of part one.

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6 responses to “The Journey – Part 1

  1. this sounds like it will be a painful trip….

  2. Zen Master Wong

    The Buddha says that anger makes us look ugly. that’s right—us! Not them, not our tormentors, but us! That may be true, but apparently the Buddha never worked the customer service counter and dealt with slack jawed, mouth breathing morons with uncontrollable drooling trying to buy boxes at closing time. I am a Bhodhisattva— I have taken the vow to forgo the state of Nirvana to return to earthly incarnations to help others overcome the cause of their ignorance and suffering. I will do that by kicking your sorry asses into shape and enlightenment. Have a nice day, namaste.

  3. Zen Master Wong

    And for Chris. Here is a famous zen story, known as Juzhi Yushi’s Finger (a 9th century Zen master):

    Juzhi raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When anyone asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy would raise his finger.

    Juzhi heard about the boy’s mischief. He seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and ran away. Juzhi called and stopped him. When the boy turned his head to Juzhi, Juzhi raised up his own finger. In that instant the boy was enlightened.

    See? Chris, you MUST learn to use your finger! Give them the finger and help them be enlightened!

  4. You know what’s worse than bad public transportation?
    No public transportation.

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