The wheels on the bus go round and round. And round. And round
So I had to take my car in for a few minor things.
Change the oil. Check the brakes. Roll back the odometer.
As I dropped the car off, they told me it only would take about three or four hours to rob me blind.
Since I'm a busy man, I knew I couldn't waste my time sitting at a car dealership all morning when I could be sitting at my desk trying to find a new Britney Spears Web site.
Fortunately, the car dealership was near several busy intersections. Which gave me an idea:
Hey, why didn't I just take the bus to work?
Heck, I hadn't been on a bus in probably 15 years. But c'mon, how hard could this be?
For crying out loud, a hundred bazillion people take the bus to work every single day.
Of course, none of them are Jewish.
So I asked the man behind the counter at the car dealership where the nearest bus stop was. He told me to walk a couple of blocks to the main intersection, and there'd be a bus stop right there.
It was 8:15 AM.
Friends, if you're sitting in your car on your way to work and you see someone walking down the street at 8:15 AM, only two words can come to mind:
"Hey, look at that guy. Poor sap. Must be headed to the unemployment office."
"Man, he's really got it rough. He can't even afford a car."
"Thank God I'm not married to him. Although he does appear to have a nice ass."
But wait, there's more.
As an added bonus, I'd left my lunch container at work the day before. So today, I brought my lunch in a blue plastic bag from the grocery store.
Let's summarize, shall we?
A guy walking down a main street. It's 8:15 AM. And he's carrying a blue plastic bag with food in it.
Life doesn't get much better than that.
Eventually, I made it to a pole with a sign that said "Bus Stop." And there I stood.
Now at this time of the morning, I assumed that busses would be coming by on a regular basis.
That was an incorrect assumption on my part.
For 20 minutes, I stood next to that pole. Do you know how long 20 minutes is?
Twenty minutes is:
*1/3 of an hour.
*ten minutes, doubled.
*me having sex, like, 50 or 60 times.
Finally, my perseverance paid off. Because there, off in the distance, I saw it. The bus.
I anxiously stood near the curb. I had my money in my hand. And I was ready to experience the thrill and excitement of public transportation for the first time in years.
I watched the bus get closer. I watched the bus get closer. And I watched the bus get closer.
Then, I watched the bus drive by.
As I continued to watch the back of the bus get smaller and smaller, another bus pulled up. This one actually stopped.
"Hi," I said, "does this bus go downtown?"
"Oh no, sugar," said the bus driver. "You need the 90 Express. You can't get that bus from this stop."
"Can you tell me where I can get the 90 Express?" I asked.
"That's down the road up there," she said.
She must've seen the look of desperation in my eye.
"Get on," she said. "I'll take you there."
Friends, if there's one thing worse than being a loser who has to ride the bus, it's having the loser people on the bus think you're the loser.
Although I'm not sure I could disagree with them.
She dropped me off at the appropriate place and, lo and behold, there stood the 90 Express.
I paid my buck fifty. I sat down with my blue plastic bag. And I took a look around at my busmates.
Surprisingly, they didn't seem all that bad.
There were a couple of nurses. A guy reading the paper. Two guys chatting.
And a guy across the aisle from me who was whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown." Loudly.
In fact, I'd venture to guess that of all the guys who have ever whistled "Sweet Georgia Brown" loudly on the 90 Express, this guy was the best ever. Although I hadn't been on a bus for a while, so it was a little hard for me to judge.
But wait, there's more.
As an added bonus, I also had to pee really badly.
A sign at the front of the bus said, "Please No Eating On The Bus."
There were no signs that said, "Please No Peeing On The Bus."
Thankfully, the 90 Express offered a smooth, luxurious ride for urine-impaired passengers such as myself.
Smooth and luxurious. Like an off-road unicycle.
The 90 Express was also custom-built to provide riders with service that's quiet and relaxing.
Quiet and relaxing. Like war.
I noticed that there was a lot of starting and stopping on the bus. Which I didn't really like until the bus stopped at a light, I looked out my window, and I saw a girl in a short skirt in the car next to us.
Suddenly, I liked riding the bus.
The light turned green. There she went.
Catch up, Mrs. Bus Driver. Hurry, Mrs. Bus Driver.
Step on the freakin' gas, you goddamn idiot Mrs. Bus Driver.
Eventually, through all the bumps, all the stops, all the Sweet Georgia Brown, we got to my building.
As I got off the bus, I asked the driver if this is where I got the bus at the end of the day. She said yes.
I asked what time. She handed me a bus schedule.
Have you ever seen a bus schedule, friends?
90X. Southbound. Eastbound. Westbound. 400. 423. 436. 454. There were three pages with words and numbers like this.
It was like derivative calculus for retards.
I had no clue what to do. Nevertheless, I left the bus. I went to work. And I was looking forward to my ride home.
Note to self: pee before you get on the bus again.
Eight hours later
I returned to where I was.
Approaching the bus, I noticed that the numbers weren't displayed on the top of the bus. So I wasn't positive this was mine.
Before I got on, I asked the bus driver, "Is this the 90 Express?"
My bus driver was on her cell phone. She looked at me and said, "Huh? Oh, uh-huh. Whatever." Then she went back to talking.
While I never went to medical school, I'm almost positive that's exactly how neurosurgeons respond to each other.
So is that the ancillary route that I reconfigure to take pressure off the cerebral cortex?
Huh? Oh, uh-huh. Whatever.
Nevertheless, I got on the bus and sat down.
This, friends, was yet another in a long line of bad decisions in my life.
The first one being, "Hmm, it looks OK out there. I guess I'll come out of this hole."
As I looked out my bus window, I noticed that we appeared to be taking a slightly different route home than the one we had taken this morning.
And while I'm not the most savvy of bus riders, I'm almost positive that the bus always goes back exactly the same way it came.
I was going to ask the guy in front of me what bus we were on. Partly because I wanted to know what bus I was on. And partly because he kept looking back at me.
At first, I thought it was because perhaps he couldn't believe that someone of my stature was riding the bus.
Then I realized that the reason he kept looking back at me was because he was drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels on the bus and he wanted to make sure I didn't seem him with Jack Daniels on the bus.
Funny thing about Jack Daniels on the bus. The whole bus smells like Jack Daniels.
I decided not to ask him what bus we were on.
Fortunately, I looked up again and suddenly the streets seemed familiar to me. We were heading in the right direction!
Maybe they just take a slightly different route in the afternoon to compensate for traffic patterns, huh?
Hey, here's my street. And after she turns right, my stop's down here on the left about half a mile and I'll be on my way.
There was only one tiny problem with my plan to be on my way after she turned right.
She turned left.
I wasn't really sure what to do. So I just sat there. Then I looked around and realized that my drinking buddy was gone. Everybody was gone.
Well, not everybody. The bus driver was still there.
Oh, and me.
Seeing that there was plenty of good seating available, and I was still heading in the wrong direction, I thought it might be a good time to make my way to the front of the bus and talk to the bus driver.
"Hi," I said to my driver. "Um, are you going back that way?"
She shook her head no. "This bus never goes that way, honey."
"But I thought the 90 Express goes that way?" I asked.
"It does," she said, "but this ain't the 90 Express, darling. It's the 802."
"You told me this was the 90 Express," I said.
She gave me the look like she had no idea what I was talking about.
Only because she had no idea what I was talking about.
"I really need to go that way," I pleaded, pointing in the other direction.
"Tell you what, honey," she said as she stopped the bus. "I'm gonna give you a transfer slip. Go over to that shelter over there and wait for the 76 Express, which should be by in about one minute. He'll take you where you need to go."
I thought I needed the 90 Express, not the 76 Express, but by now, I just wanted to go in the other direction. So I took the transfer slip and made my way across the street to the bus shelter to wait for the 76 Express, which was going to be by in one minute.
Or 14 minutes. Not that anyone was counting.
But wait, there's more.
As an added bonus, there was a snowstorm.
For 14 minutes, I stood in the freezing, snowy cold of Cleveland, waiting for another bus.
Finally, the 76 Express pulled up. He opened the door.
"Hi. I'm trying to go that way and I was one the wrong bus and she told me it was the right bus and now I'm waiting here because she told me to and I think you're the wrong bus but now I'm not sure what the right bus is and all I wanna do is go that way. Do you go that way?" I said.
Maybe it was the pathetic plea of my voice. Maybe it was the desperate look in my eyes. Maybe it was the ice crystal on my chin.
"Get on," he said.
And so I did. Which brought the grand total of people on the bus to two.
"Y'know, there's two things I can do for ya," he said. "I can drop you off two blocks from where you need to go, which in this crappy weather is a long walk. Or I can give you a transfer slip to jump on the 46B, which will take you even closer."
This is what I said:
"No more busses, no more busses, no more busses, no more busses."
That was the last time I spoke to my bus driver.
A short while later, we arrived. He opened the door, and out I went.
A mere one hour and forty-six minutes after stepping on the bus, I was a free man.
So what if I had to walk two blocks in a raging snowstorm? So what if I had to walk another block to the dealership? So what if my repair bill was $200 for nothing? So what?
Hey, look. Keys. I see keys. My keys. Give me my keys. Can I have my keys, please? Hello, keys.
I missed you, keys.
As I got in the car, I looked around and began to appreciate everything I had taken for granted even this morning.
My steering wheel. My radio. My REO Speedwagon cassette.
I drove off, and as I sat at a stoplight, I looked off to the side and I saw a guy standing at a bus stop.
I thought about my day. I thought about what a burden it is for this poor, poor man to have to endure public transportation. I thought about what was in store him. I thought about all that could go wrong.
Yes, I thought all those things.
But mostly, I thought the guy was a total loser for taking the bus.