I had the perfect solution for my trip to New York City, the bus. Minimal driving, maximum writing/staring out the window pretending that I was in a really deep movie about finding yourself. Plus it came with a reasonable price tag. Done and done.
Until the ride home, when I become certifiably undone.
I Was Born a Ramblin’ Woman
Actually, that’s not true at all. I was born to be a homebody and have considered surgically adding a cozy blanket to my armpits because it would better suit my lifestyle. But at the same time, I do enjoy some element of travel in my life. That specific element is the “being there” and not the “getting there.” More often than not there are missteps, missed connections, miscues and “Miss, are you okay?”
Surprisingly, I safely get on the bus with minimal incidents and I settled in for a few hours of “me time” on the way to NYC. However, I found my mind being quickly transported back to the last time I traveled alone and forgot what to do with my hands because I didn’t have a small child to buckle/provide a snack to/ prevent from locking my phone. So despite my best efforts I zoned in on the dad traveling with his young son somehow thinking my parenting services might be needed to these strangers.
“Careful not to squeeze that juice box, Timmy. Your extra clothes are under the bus.” — The dad
First off, that’s courageous. I haven’t found that kind of faith in my children yet. Secondly, I found that even though I had no small children with me, I did have a spare pair of toddler underwear in my purse. So I kept myself on creeper standby. Timmy did fine, though. Good job, bud.
You Can’t Get There from Here
Lots of fun ensued in NYC, but eventually it was time to head back home.
When I got to Port Authority, I proudly found the line for the bus to Boston, all by myself. But you know what? I wasn’t going to Boston… I was going to Worcester. To the several people in line that I joked with saying, “Man, this line is kind of wonky and crowded, but we’ll get there eventually!” I hope that you did get to Boston eventually. I did not get to Boston eventually. Fortunately.
After MANY loudspeaker announcements, I finally realized that I had actually parked my car in Worcester, MA instead of Boston, MA and made my way to the right line. There I learned that our bus would be delayed a half hour. Which in bus language means an hour and a half. I didn’t know that at first, but I’m now conversational in bus. Still more comfortable written than spoken, but I’m getting there.
I took this delay as an opportunity to extend my lifespan by standing rather than sitting. The young gentleman behind me took it as an opportunity to yell at every Port Authority employee and demand a refund. It seems he thought there was a Port Authority employee deep in my ear canal as well so he made sure the message got down there.
One of his friends finally convinced him to take the volume down to 12 and discuss something else besides our current waiting impatiently state. So they talked about school. She asked him why he had dropped out to which he replied, “I didn’t drop out, I just left one day with no set plans or intention of returning.” I really hope he goes back because the kid has a future in very loud wordsmithing. Talk radio perhaps.
If I Have To Sell My Soul to the Devil Himself
Three and a half days later the bus finally left New York towards our pit stop in Hartford, Connecticut. There was no chance we were going to make our connection to Worcester so I thought I was being SUPER smart and bought a ticket on a later bus. My trusting soul purchased the ticket through a third party bus ticketing company, which apparently is a thing, and didn’t think anything of it.
That is until I realized that the ticket I purchased also had a connection I might miss. And upon further digging, that connection didn’t even actually exist. I bought a bus ticket to nowhere.
The lovely guys working the counter at Peter Pan in Hartford tried to get me onto another bus to Worcester, but it was sold out. I’d have to wait, Kate McCallister style, to see if I could barter my cubic zirconia earrings for a seat on that bus.
So I did what any grown adult would do, and called my mom. Merm immediately started offering solutions. I immediately started acting like a child claiming that none of those solutions would work and everything was awful and I live in Hartford now and I hope my kids will remember me.
And then I cried.
I Probably Think This Bus is About Me
As I stood outside at the Hartford bus depot crying and lamenting about how difficult and unfair my life was, the line started to form. I pulled it together enough to learn that the bus could fit 54 people and with only 24 in line, there was hope. Maybe enough people would just say “Screw it, I’ll walk to Worcester — I could use the steps.” My spirits soared.
Until another bus pulled up and ALL of those passengers got in line for their transfer. 24 people turned into 48, then 49, 50, 51…
At this point I was basically openly weeping and trying to make eye contact with strangers to give them my best “Please sir, the children! The children need me! THE CHILDREN!”
By the grace of not God because God had real problems to deal with that day, people stopped getting in line. The last passenger in line boarded the bus, and bus driver Steven gave me the go ahead to board. I walked onto that bus like I was walking onto a yacht. My imaginary hat strategically dipped below one eye, if I had been wearing a scarf, it would have been apricot.
Kids — Mommy’s coming home.
— Becca Carnahan