Friday, April 15, 2011

Another One Rides Da Bus

I had a simple little errand to run into da big city. A place where you have no idea whether men are men, or whether you need to take out a mortgage for the parking fees, assuming you can find a place to park.

It was a Monday morning, and morning rush hour. My car was willing. My patience...was not.

Since I've been paying taxes for our local bus service -- aka, RTD, Regional Transit District -- I decided to leave the driving into the maelstrom of downtown on a Monday morning rush hour, to them. Granted, I was a re-constituted virgin, bus riding-wise; I hadn't used RTD since 1993, and then from the northern 'burbs of the Denver Metro. I ignored the strains of the Kingston Trio's MTA song I recalled from years ago, and expected I'd find my way back before the next rent payment was due.

Now, when I did this bus thing in '93, I didn't have internet to research the route, the fares, the time schedules, or the connections, if any. I had to call RTD and ask what, where and how. Now, I had all of that at my finger tips, via my home computer. Which I chose not to use; I'd wing it, instead.

This could leave a mark.

First, to the nearest RTD transportation 'hub' near me: a large park-n-ride at a major thruway on the west side of 'da Metro. As I followed the more experienced 'herd' toward the generously-termed 'gate' (a sign on a curb that marked where the bus picked up), I noted that they, almost without exception, were audibly equipped with the latest in distraction: ipods, blackberries and blue tooths. I drew a few odd stares, having none of the above, when I tried to fit in, and held my hand to my ear, simulating a spirited wireless conversation with my pet rock.

Suddenly, I had more space in the line than I had heretothen.

The bus arrives. The bus route's designator means nothing to me -- ES -- but it does indicate it's going downtown. Somewhere. I hope to the right 'where'. I board, pay my fee -- luckily, I had the exact change that Admiral Kirk and Capt. Spock lacked -- and I found me a seat. A moment later, the bus was off.

My first indicator that the ride would be less than epic, was that no where amongst the passengers, did I see Sandra Bullock. Next, I noted a list of bus-riding prohibitive signs on the bulkhead above the driver, discouraging a whole host of activities being brought on or done on the bus: no standing forward of the white line. No food or drink. No littering. No playing loud music. No firearms or weapons of mass destruction. No remotely-triggered bombs allowed on the bus, set to activate at 50 mph. No mooning cars on 6th Avenue.

Small wonder the ride into downtown was so quiet. In a mere 30 minutes, I was exiting the bus in a sub-ground terminal called Civic Center Station.

From there, I assumed me to be within walking distance of my destination. I just hadn't bothered to figure out which direction it was, from where I disembarked. So I wandered out to the nearest main arterial that ran east-west. That and 50 cents told me nothing.

Now, being a male, I am not supposed to be practical and stop to ask for directions. Not part of my gender's psychology. I mean, where would Lewis & Clark be today, had they stopped and asked directions? Same place they're buried, I reckon, and I digress.

So I picked a direction and started walking. I knew the place had to be close by. Within 2 blocks, I saw what I reckoned had to be the place: a line of folks stretched out the front doors, waiting. I entered, and went through the security check point. Three times. By the third -- stripped to my skivvies -- I quit triggering the danged metal detector. From there, I waddled over to the "Wherezits" sign, tryin' to hitch up me trousers, to find my destination. I didn't find it. Phffft.

I wandered down the hall to an office widda sign "Information". I waited in that line, and while doing so, literally watched Time flying by: the clock on the wall's minute and hour hand were moving at the speed of faster than seconds. The second hand...was dead. I ignored the clerk's five o'clock shadow growing before my eyes, and asked about my destination; with a primal *grunt*, he pointed at the wall and mumbled "next buildin' over". Afterwhich, I pointed out the wall clock; he turned -- audibly creaking as he did so -- and mumbled "yeah, we know".

So back to the door I'd originally entered -- 'cuz the wall he pointed at, didn't have one -- and onto the next building over. Another security check point, with a slightly more agreeable metal detector: I only hadda go through twice, and got to keep my pants on.

Finally, I made my destination. In one of the most shocking experiences of my adult life, the licensing process I was sent to do, took 15 minutes. Period. Let me say that again: I went to a city and county government building, to go through a license application process with governmental bureaucrats, and it only took 15 minutes. That was more surreal than the ticking crock.

So now it was time to go back to catch a bus. Which -- after wandering several blocks to reacquaint myself with a sense of direction -- I found the terminal. And discovered that the bus I needed wouldn't be returning there until mid afternoon.


But, I was told, I could wander out the door, walk over to the corner of the main east-west arterial, and catch a bus what would git me where I wanted to go, via every stop betwixt here and Timbuck-ptui. The person giving me those directions did NOT look like Dennis Hopper, so I reckoned I'd try it, just this once.

At the corner of east-west Mayhem, I was swept up by the suction of a throng boarding a bus; luckily, the very one that the un-Dennis Hopper directed me to. I had just spotted me a vacant seat, when the bus lunged forward like a bull leaving the gates at a rodeo; good thing the floor broke my fall. The bus riders were blissfully unawares of my momentary conversion from upright motoring to aisle crawler.

I managed to get into the seat, just as I heard the bus driver make an overhead announcement that was as clear as Ozzy Osbourne, followed instantaneously by the bus almost standing on its nose to halt. As I wondered what we'd managed to avoid hitting, the doors opened, and a soon-to-be familiar routine took place: people got off, and people got on. And with each cycle, people staying on the bus moved around, opting for better seating with better bracing.

But not me. I kept my ass anchored right where I'd belatedly managed to land it. The stops along the east-west arterial were so fast and furious, by the time mine eyes had seen the glory of a better seat, the opportunity for it had already passed.

Each accompanied by the bus driver's best imitation of Son of Cheeseburger on the overhead.

Never heard one recognizeable syllable. Gradually, the geography became more and more familiar, until -- with one nose-standing, 90 degree pirouette -- the bus slammed to a stop in the very place from whenst I'd begunst this odyssey, two hours prior. My car and I were never so glad to see each other.

But I might tempt more fate: maybe next time, I'll wander a bit further afield, and try the light rail train. Long as I'm not sharing it with Dennis Hopper and/or Steven Seagal.

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Blogger Sueann said...

Oh you brave soul!! I'm a scared to give that a try!! And you odyssey only confirms my suspicions. I will stick with my car; thank you very much! Ha!!

15 April, 2011 03:06  
Blogger Right Truth said...

Only 15 minutes, really? That must be a record.

As to riding the bus, the last time hubby and I rode a bus was in the late 1970's. We were leaving our car at a port in California to be shipped over to Hawaii. We were flying. We chose to ride a bus from the port back to San Diego. Big mistake.

It was worse than Captain Kirk and Spock's bus ride, the back of the bus was full of crazy, loud guys like the one Kirk confronted. It was not, no AC, stinky, loud, scary.

I've never stepped foot on a bus again.

Right Truth

15 April, 2011 08:18  
Blogger Andy said...

HA! Skunks, that was classic Skunkfeathers. Seriously, that's good writing.

I read it three times (but never lost my trousers).

15 April, 2011 09:04  
Blogger Deb said...

I never use public transportation, I like to get to my destination the same day that I leave my house.

15 April, 2011 12:26  

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