I don't know if I have ever mentioned before how much I despise taking the bus. I know, I know, I should be thankful I even have the opportunity, I should be thankful that I have that service available to me. Trust me, I am. I'm also so very thankful that Stephen and I are able to have a car, that we have the luxury of owning a car and the finances to do so (it does come at a cost of no cable and not so fast internet) but my car is so important to me.
I've never had to "take" the bus with one exception of 3 years ago. The only bus (other then school bus) I had to take was in University. There was only one bus though, it made all the stops without me needing to pull the stop request handle. I knew when it came, I knew were it would go, I knew where to get off and there were no tickets or transfers required. It was so simple and easy. Also, when the bus stopped the back doors would automatically open. It was my dream bus ride, a ride of no fears or worries....today....not so much.
Let's start with knowing when the bus comes. I looked up the schedule and it said in order to be at the stop I needed to get off I needed to catch the 9:30 bus. But see, the 9:30 bus is up the street, it doesn't say exactly when the bus would be at my bus stop....I did some calculating and it seemed the bus came every 25 minutes. I figured if I went out there are 9:15 I'd be safe. There was no way I could miss it right? Well I didn't because it was late. It didn't get to my stop until 9:32, it was about 5-8 minutes behind but it was okay. That would put me at where I needed to be right on time. So the bus came....then came the "bus driver laughs at Jessica" moment.
The ticket slot. I've never used a ticket slot, I didn't know what it was going to look like and I surely did not know where to stick my ticket. I was hoping someone would join me at my bus stop and get on before me so I could try and see. I feared the people on the bus would laugh and point at me...that girl has NO clue what she is doing...no your right I don't. Thankfully my embarrassment was saved by two things. 1. the fact that no one else was on the bus and 2. the bus driver could see the look of cluelessness in my eyes and pointed kindly to the slot I needed to put my ticket in. I over came hurdle number two as my ticket smoothly slid into it's proper place. Now Stephen had told me to ask for a transfer when I got on the bus (I know the purpose of a transfer thanks)
Now Stephen had told me to ask for a transfer when I got on the bus (I know the purpose of a transfer thanks) and not having been a bus expert I thought it was like the ticket system at the meat counter, I grab one and go...nope, you actually have to say you need a transfer, I can only imagine what the bus driver thought as I stood there looking at him, so clueless and thinking I was so close! It took me a few seconds to realize I needed to ASK him, he then proceeded to hand it to me and because he did not say anything I assumed it was my time to go find a seat.
A piece of advice to my bus riding friends who have not had the pleasure of riding public transportation before....when choosing a seat (given you have the choice, sometimes you don't. You'll either have to sit by the smelly old looking man or stand and for those with balance issues like me, standing is probably the last possibly thing you want to go with, even the smelly old man seems better than standing) MAKE SURE to choose a seat that faces forward. If not you may become green with illness from the swaying back and forth of the crazy bus driver and watching things go by you at a quick pace makes one dizzy and so very nauseous. I was given a heads up by my psychologist that I should try riding in a seat facing forward, which I did on the way home and I must report it is better. That being said, there is no way I could ever ride the bus if I were to become pregnant, if I was as sick as I was with Ty I would be getting off at every stop to puke. Bus drivers are CRAZY!! I was so dizzy and ill feeling even when I was in the facing forward seats (though I will admit it was much better and less stomach turning when facing forward, I could perhaps do that for a short trip) So I made my way to a seat, I chose the side facing seats right behind the bus driver because I did not know where to go. Yes, I made that mistake. We were riding along and my next task was getting close to appearing.
Pulling the stop request handle aka the germ infested yellow thing above the germ infested window above the germ infested seat you are sitting on. Did I mention buses are germy? The first thing I did when I got off the bus both times was wash my hands. Lord knows what or who touched the things I had to touch....ewww....Anyways, I was passing Cherryhill mall and knew my stop was next so I pulled the handle. That part worked, I did okay! Yahhhhh......but then came the next issue.
How to get off the bus. This may seem so simple to people who often ride but as a non-bus rider this is something I debated. I was sitting in the seat right behind the driver so I was close to the front door and though I'll just get off because he'll see me and can open the doors. However, there were a few signs posted that said for MY safety to exit at the rear of the bus. At this point in the ride only people had gotten on, no one got off. I decided to abide by the signs and exit at the rear of the bus. In order to do this one must get out of their seat a few seconds before the stop to appropriately be flung around by the drivers crazy antics, I swear they get a snicker if someone falls! It seems like it is their purpose. You may think it is to get people safely from point A to B but after what I witnessed today it's like a hidden camera show to see how people react and how many people they can get to fall. I decided it was best for me to be at the door before he stopped so I didn't go flying....I attempted to make my way to the back probably looking quite silly grabbing and holding everything I could ( on the way home I was shown that you can walk on a bus without holding anything and not fall....maybe for the pros, that doesn't work for this chick) but I made it and as I stood grasping the bars and all there germs for dear life I was almost done the torture. Now came the last part....
Opening the doors. Let me reiterate, I have only ever been on one "city" bus while in college and the one time I did ride it here others were on and off before me so I just followed them. The bus at the University I went to had the doors that automatically opened if you stood on the step so here I was, Oxford and Britannia, waiting to get off the bus at my stop yet the doors were not opening..I stood there expecting them to open and thanked God there was about 20 people waiting to get on the bus so I had time to look up and read the sign that said push yellow bar to open door...Ahhhh ha! You have to push the yellow bar, so I pushed and it opened and I was free!!!!!!!!!!!
Well free for 1 hour before I had to get back on the bus and do it all over again but this time I was prepared. The only thing I didn't know was what to do with my transfer. The really bad thing, there were people behind me and on the bus and the bus driver wasn't much help. I handed him my transfer and stood there waiting to see if he said it was valid or not, he said nothing and just looked at it, which made me think it wasn't valid anymore (maybe if you weren't a few minutes late it wouldn't have been invalid) but he didn't say anything so after a few seconds I left and went to find my way to a forward facing seat, near the back where I could see my stop coming, knowing when to pull the cord, properly positioning myself before the rear door and as my stop came, I pushed the yellow bars and I was free once again.
Now I don't like to toot my own horn but I think I got this bus riding thing down. I learned a lot on my way there but observing what others did, on the way back as well. I still LOVE the luxury of our car and will still use it as much as I can, but if I had to take the bus once or twice more, I think I'd survive, that is, assuming I don't need to transfer to another bus to get where I need to go. That would be a disaster! One bus I can handle, one route I can handle....short trip, it's doable, not while pregnant but in the meantime. I won't say the bus and I will become great friends anytime soon but at least we are no longer enemies.
Stay tuned for tomorrows adventure....attempting my first BBQ on a charcoal grill...this should make for another great story! (and if I don't post it's because I lit myself on fire)