If you need a refresher click here part 1.
Yes, a shuttle bus. I didn’t know it but the station is being worked on so we’re being shuttled to the nearest station. Some people at this juncture would pack it in, not strain themselves to push on. But most people haven’t had my collection of head trauma. I rush outside to be met with a bus with more people in it than many small towns. But I shove myself into this mass and writhe along with my fellow chattel.
I regret not having checked the time while I was in the train station. Now I can’t make myself crazy calculating ETA’s. Instead I focus on the number of red lights we hit (all of them) and the interesting fragrance wafting from at least one of the passengers behind me. A combination of milk about to spoil and a wet muskrat that has recently been sprayed by a skunk.
By the time we get to the next station I know I’ve lost some time. I race up the stairs and see that I’ve lost probably five minutes. I now have fifty-four minutes to get to the end. That’s not good. I race up the stairs, once again slam my card against a reader to spend more money and hustle down to the train.
If there was one there. Shit. I stand on the platform, like everyone else, and wait. I look at the journey and see that I need to pass eight stations, change over to another line for two stops then go up two of the longest staircases you’ve ever seen (that’s what happens when you climb from under the ground. You have to travel some distance) and hustle through two buildings (with two more staircases) until I get to the bus stations ticket office in fifty-two minutes.
This does not bode well.
Three long minutes go by and a train slowly pulls into the station. And within seconds of the door opening the platform is over run by humans with suitcases. Is a suitcase convention in town? Two out of every three people lurching off the train has a suitcase. I juke past a small woman with a giant suitcase she’s having trouble controlling and get into the train. Okay, we can leave now.
But we can’t. There are more suitcase people still on the train attempting to gather up all their suitcases and get off the train. It’s a tsunami of suitcases. Waves and waves of people pass by dragging their suitcases with varying degrees of competency. One woman is pulling her reticent suitcase as if she’s dragging a petulant child. It’s rocking to and fro and making high pitched grinding sounds. But they keep coming.
They must have all alighted the train because the doors close. I quickly check the clock and four minutes has passed. Forty-seven minutes. Not undoable. But it’s not up to me. I am at the mercy of any happenstance. The platform is now devoid of luggage.
So what are they waiting for? Go already. If I took a vote I’m sure 100% of everyone sitting here would say, “Fuck my fellow man, they can get the next damn train.”
But we sit there. Doors open. While time ticks a way.
Finally, after four more minutes, we start moving. We’re moving and that’s good for me. Not awesome good but fair good. I know you’re wondering why only fair good. It’s because the train is going six miles an hour. I’d forgotten that the train company added a station due to a large shopping and living center popping up in a once barren wasteland. Oh do I long for the days of that barren wasteland when we’d roar past at breakneck speed. But now it’s a chuga-chuga of a children’s book choo-choo.
We finally pull into the station as gently as a bomb squad technician removes an explosive. Faces glide by as if I’m walking past them. Slowly. With a limp. The doors open and more humanity spills in. Don’t you people have anything better to do? It’s a nice day. Wouldn’t you rather be outside instead of entombed in this metal tube rolling down a track? I know I don’t but some of you bastards sure as hell do.
The train picks up and we’re off. The next station. The next one. We’re making some time now. I get to the stop where I change trains and see that I now have thirty-five minutes to finish this last section. I have to walk across a concourse, get to the train, get off the train and then bust my ass to the bus station.
I’m trying to slip myself through the gaggle of people lollygagging around. It’s as if they’re never seen a homeless guy tongue kissing his pet squirrel before. Fucking tourists. Move it along, Jon Boy! Don’t start getting homesick now. Every time I pass a clock a minute passes. It’s going to be tight and I know it.
Walking across the concourse I notice the guy in front of me. His movements caught my attention. We’re walking on a tile floor that is exquisitely decorated (if you ignore the innumerable unrecognizable stains grafted to the floor) with lines of smaller tiles creating a dividing line. I’d never really thought about this floor before (the aforementioned stains only a small reason for this slight) but it is obvious this guy has.
He stutter steps and steps over every line. Does he not see them as just more tiles? Is it an elaborate game of step on a crack, break your mother’s back? Sometimes he smoothly glides over the lines but then his stride goes a little off and it’s a quick soft shoe until so he can deftly avoid the horizontal tiles. It was quite fascinating to see this glimpse into this guy’s psyche. And it sure made me want to sneak up behind him and give him a pair of wet willies. I’m sure that would have placed him in an hours long fetal position.
I arrive at the next train platform. Half an hour. Tight but I have a good feeling about this. Which was dashed when I got the news that the next train will be along in four minutes. So I do what any person in my position would do. Look around for that goofy footer to test out my wet willie theory.
The train pulls in and we go on our way. Slowly, very slowly on our way. Are there slow children playing on these tracks? Why are we going to damn slow? But we get to the next station. One more and I begin my last push. I’m planning ahead to try to cut off seconds. Old ladies? Turn them into human slinkies if one gets in my way. Someone asking for directions? Five finger death punch to the throat.
While I’m going over my choices I notice a problem. To my left is a twin sized baby carriage blocking that exit. Huddling around the precious cargo are the parents, grandmother and another little cherub (in this situation cherub means obstacle). No problem.
I’ll hit the right egress.
Mother of syphilitic vixens! A gaggle of bicyclists. What are you doing here? Are you just showing us you have these fancy bikes? Showing them a less annoying form of transportation? You have wheels, use them! I look left, I look right. Who in my way hits the ground tonight?
As luck would have it both potential obstacles must have felt my impending evisceration because both ends parted and I could let them go one living their relatively annoying lives.
I get off the train and head towards the bus station. I’m so close but also some vital minutes away. I glance at a clock. It’s 4:55. Twenty minutes left. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this but I do remember it being a rather time sucking walk. So let’s get to it, shall we?
Through the train station, up the stairs, across something, through a thing, down a hallway, it’s as if I’m my own character in some dumb ass video game. I can feel the minutes tick past as the hit the largest of the staircases. As I’m moving towards it I survey my options.
The escalator is action packed. There is a gaggle of roughly thirty people in a tight knot just starting to hit the start of the escalator. I can’t get tied up in that. So I look way up, I mean skyscraper neck crane here, to the top of the stairs. I have my path. Joining me on the stairs is one other guy. He has a lead so that gives me a goal. I’m not only going to beat those lazy escalator people up to the top I’m beating this guy.
And it was harder than you think.
But I did it. I blew past the escalator and the hideous people who reside there on my way to the next staircase about a thousand yards away. It’s a smaller staircase, about 3/4 the size, and I hit it as if I’m being chased. I can feel myself slowing down about midway up. But I can also see something rising up with each step. The top of an analog clock. Each step reveals a little more of the actual time. I see the big hand. The most important hand to me right now. A few more steps and it shows me that I have six minutes to get to the bus station.
Very very tight. Tighter than a tick in a fat guys stomach roll.
I hit the top of the stairs and do what comes naturally. Run.
“No running.” I hear, seriously, eight strides in. I stop and turn to face where the sound came from. A transit cop was standing beside a pole. Just waiting for me my paranoid side says. “You can’t run in here.” He’s being cool, very matter of fact. I’m walking past and it dawns on me.
“Oh, I get it. Some weird ass bald guy racing through a crowded train station could make some people nervous.” The cop laughs and nods. I smile at him as I walk past. “Maybe if they didn’t play the ‘see something, say something’ jingle every ninety seconds people wouldn’t be in such a panic.”
“You have a point.” He says as I continue on past.
I go through the food court. Zigging and zagging around people going in four directions. I hit the door to the train platform that will lead me to the bus station. I see people filing towards me and make the right adjustments around them, beams and garbage barrels. But I’m still moving, still on my way.
I hit the first of three staircases. Complete. The next one is bigger. Then another long walk to the final staircase which is the biggest one in the bus station. I’m walking as fast as one can while thinking, “Don’t move too fast. You’ll panic the weak ones and never make any bus.”
I get to the top of the stairs, move right and head to the ticket counter. I see the clock a hundred feet before I reach the ticket counter.
Right on time!
My idiot side says.
But I trundle on. I go up to the counter and ask the guy if I can get on the bus that I know is loading passengers as we speak.
“No. Ticketing is closed. There’s another one at 6:15.”
You don’t say, turd muffin.
“We couldn’t try?”
“It’ll take about five minutes to even process the ticket. By then it’s sure to be gone.” Without irony, pity or sarcasm he says,
“You want one for 6:15?”
I think back on the journey I just experienced and say,
“Fuck it. I’m going to get a beer.”
End of part two.