Originally Posted: 2005-07-12 1:13pm
Clark bus, this is all your fault.
So, this morning I decided to take the bus to work because it was raining. The fastest route, usually, is to take the 22 down to Halsted where you can transfer to the 8. The problem is, and the reason why I now try to avoid the 22 whenever possible, is that it is a notoriously indefinite wait. Sometimes it arrives fairly quickly but more often than not I end up standing around for a good 15-25 minutes. This wouldn't even be that bad were it not for the other bus patrons that you inevitably end up having to stand next to/avoid eye contact with the whole time. If they aren't visibly crazy they're at least leery and you have to stand there, not looking at them, with the full knowledge that they are doing nothing but staring at you.
Sooo, when I arrived at the closest 22 stop and there was no bus in sight I decided to walk up the street to the next bus stop, which happens to be next to a Starbucks. I do this because a) I won't have to stand next to the aforementioned weirdos (probably just normal people but whatever), b) I can get a coffee while I wait, and c) I will catch my bus sooner because I have shortened the distance between myself and it (the last reason is my favorite. It's like the "how long before the two trains collide..." problem). Of course, there are two inherent dangers in doing this. The bus may materialize out of nowhere as I'm walking between stops and pass me, or I may be actually inside the coffeeshop as it arrives. In both cases if I'm unable to catch the bus I am likely looking at an additional wait of 15-25 minutes. This is infuriating and to be avoided at all costs.
I get to Starbucks and look up Clark: no bus in sight. This is not completely comforting as Clark curves just two blocks north and doesn't allow for a very long look. I then look inside the coffeeshop and see no line: unusual for this time of morning, but good. When I have attempted this precarious dance in the past and have had to wait in line I end up anxiously prancing about, willing the line to move faster with what others probably mistake for a "handicapped guy needs to pee" performance. With no line and no bus, my concerns have been assuaged and I go in to get a drink. Ordering and paying is easy enough, but as I'm standing there, not one minute after having entered, a bus pulls up. Damn! I turn to the person making drinks, or "barista" if you will, and want to say something but don't know what. Do I shout, "Make me a coffee in 2 seconds!," or, "Hold that coffee! I'll be back in 8 hours to collect!," or "Just give me my empty cup! I'll figure this out later!"? I think I said something awkward, like, "Heh! Bus, 22! Gotta... coffee time!," and just stood there. She looked outside and said, "Oh no, your bus?" I replied, trying to play it cool, "Yeah, but you know, whatever. I'm already late for work. I'll just, you know, catch the next one." The bus pulls away and then, in a fittingly comic way, as I'm watching, the NEXT BUS immediately pulls up. What the fuck? How am I supposed to catch this one either? My drink still isn't ready. I turn to the person making my drink and she says, "Well, now you've done it." I laugh but I'm already thinking "Does this compound my wait? Am I going to be stuck here for 30-50 minutes?" She hands me my drink and I turn to watch the second 22 in 20 seconds disappear. I've already resigned myself to my inevitable delay right as, and this is really just too typical of the 22, a THIRD bus immediately appears at the stop. Why does this happen on Clark? Why must one wait for an hour and a half, in the middle of January, at 2 am, only to be greeted by a choo-choo train of buses? But I digress. Without thinking I launch towards the door--I do not want to wait 45 minutes for the next bus. If I can't catch one of THREE buses that have just passed, can I even call myself a morning commuter? And why does the prospect of missing a bus threaten my sense of self-worth?
I get to the door, already having spilled coffee on my hand and shirt. No, I almost get to the door. Right as I'm reaching for the door, watching the bus as its brakes release and it's about to advance, a baby drunkenly wabbles into my path. I turn and see a mom right next to me--the baby has meandered not 3 feet away from the mom and is now at the door, swaying back and forth, looking out the window and more importantly blocking my expedited exit. Holy shit. My bus is pulling away. Over the baby's head I swing the door out and am trying to squeeze past. I say, in a rushed but not disrespectful voice, "Excuse me!" Baby wabbles; mom seems to be immobile off to the side. Realizing that I'm saying "Excuse me" and expecting a response from what is probably a 15-month old infant, I half-turn to the mom and say it again, "Excuse me!" I look down, hoping to see hands whooshing into the picture and whisking the baby out of my way so that I can bound after my bus. Nothing. I give one more futile, half-hearted "Excuse me!" and then do something that I am none-too-proud-of and is the reason for my writing all of this. I debate reaching down and gently moving baby aside, but I have a cup of coffee in my hand. I return to my initial inclination, which is to squeeze by. Oh, and just to aid your mental picture the baby, despite the swaying to-and-fro, hasn't wavered from her spot in the middle of the doorway. This baby is resolute, standing fast. I try to turn to my side so that I might sneak by as I've, by this point, given up on any mom intervention/rescue. I go to advance but the doorframe gets in the way of my backpack and I'm forced to turn in slightly. All in a split moment, I'm moving past the baby but baby is in the middle of swinging back, like a pendulum, in my direction. I connect with baby, not at baby-injuring or -hurting speed, but at baby-being-thrown-off-balance speed. Not really having time to think, already getting ready to run, and glance back just in time to see baby taking an abrupt seat in the entrance way. I run after the bus, which stops halfway down the block for me, and I get on with coffee all over my hand and shirt and a new reason to question my self-worth.
This morning I pushed a baby over to catch a bus.