Number 2 – Where Are You?


We long-distance commuters, we know about schedules – about getting up pre-dawn, numbly going through the shower/make-up/shaving/dressing/feed the cats/ grab a yogurt routine.  About leaving the house in time to make the ferry, the BART or if we’re really crazy, the freeway (unless of course, we are carpoolers, then not quite so crazy).  And finally about making that critical connection once we’re in the City, often onto a MUNI bus.

Much of the time this all works.  But when it doesn’t, when one piece of the schedule is disrupted (the alarm doesn’t go off, the car won’t start, you can’t find the keys, it’s a disastrous hair or wardrobe day) then things start to fall apart quickly.

This morning was such a day, although everything began smoothly with a lovely ferry ride from Vallejo.  Even though we arrived at the SF Ferry building about 4 minutes later than usual, I was able to jog quickly over to my bus stop with 3 minutes to spare before the #2 bus left.

That’s where the troubles began.  The #2 bus wouldn’t start.  So I took another bus which at least gets me in the right direction and to a transfer point where I have the option of catching the next #2 bus (they run about every 20 minutes) or getting a #3 bus. Both buses take me right to my office door.  At the transfer point, there was a large wearily impatient crowd already waiting.  After about 15 minutes that next #2 bus arrived, and we all piled on.  One of the passengers was a large elderly lady with a large walker, so the driver had to operate the lift to help her into the bus.  By now I was running about 20 minutes late.

The bus was packed, since many of the passengers had been waiting for the original #2 bus which never came.  We sat – and stood – and waited to go.  And the bus didn’t move.  The driver couldn’t get the front doors closed because the lift for the walker wouldn’t retract .  And as he struggled and became more frustrated, the back doors joined the fray and refused to open.  He finally told us we would all have to get off the bus, that he couldn’t operate it with a broken door.  Tempers flared as people attempted to leave the bus by the open front door, which was now partially blocked by the lady and her large walker.  Other passengers pounded on the closed back door, demanding that it be opened.  The driver got angry and the lady with the walker hollered at all of us that it wasn’t her fault, and we finally all got off the bus.  Just in time for (hurray – for some of us) a #3 bus.

About half the crowd eagerly got on the #3 just as our driver got off to see what was going on with the stalled #2 bus.  She spent about 10 minutes talking to the other driver about the door problem, seemingly oblivious to her passengers, while, once more, we impatiently waited.

Finally, our driver returned and as we waited for her to leave, the #2 bus with the broken door took off with the remaining passengers.  Apparently the door problem was resolved.  No explanations given.

I arrived at work one hour late.  So much for schedules.

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