Jan 25, 2009

My First Experience with Mass Transit

For those that do not know us well, we moved back to Minneapolis in Spring of 2006 after a 5-year hiatus to sample the East Coast and then Anchorage, Alaska.  If anyone has moved to, or from, Alaska, you will doubtlessly recall that it takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to get your household goods (and vehicles) shipped to you via barge.

With both vehicles and all of my bikes on a barge somewhere in the Gulf of Alaska for the next several weeks, I was forced to be car-free and determined to make it work. I bought a bus pass and researched my options. I concluded (incorrectly, it turns out) that my best option would be to take the Route 42 bus from the corner of 46th Street and Bloomington Ave. to the light rail station and get downtown on the train. On Sunday night, I researched the bus schedule and had the Route 46 times down, more or less. Before I went to bed, I loaded my backpack with my bus schedule and a magazine to read on the bus. I was ready.

I got up a little too early on Monday morning, not wanting to be late. Because she is a kind and caring person, my wife got up with me, and walked with me to the bus stop (in retrospect, this was more than a little bit like Mom walking her kid down to the school bus stop on the first day of Kindergarten). 

Now, my spouse is not a "morning person". She was kind of groggy and not all that pleased to be out and about at 6:45 AM, but she is a sweet and good-natured bear and took the whole event in stride despite the hour.  Our walk led us to the corner of 46th Street and Bloomingtin Ave., where we commenced to wait. And wait. And wait.

As we stood on the corner, she decided that a cup of coffee sounded pretty good, so she told me that she was going to go across the street to a local coffee shop, and asked if I wanted anything. 

"Yes. An espresso. Get me an espresso. Get me an expresso because I don't have much time - my bus is coming!" I told her.

She looked at me for a long moment, nodded once, then set off across the street and disappeared into the coffee shop.

Alone on the corner at dawn, I evaluated my state of preparedness. 
  • Magazine: check! 
  • Bus pass: check! 
  • Bus schedule: check! 
  • Cell phone: check! 
I was so F'ing ready.

Within a minute, a bus pulled up to the intersection. I quickly looked at the coffee shop - no sign of my wife!! I knew she would know that if I was not at the intersection when she returned with my espresso that I had boarded my bus and was bound for Work, so I got on, looking at the coffee shop to see if she came as we left. No luck - there must have been a line at the counter.

I swiped my bus pass and turned to sit, noticing immediately that I was the only passenger on the bus. Odd, but good since I found a seat easily enough. I sat towards the middle of the bus on the right side.  Instead of continuing down 46th Street towards the light rail station (the Route 46 M.O.), the bus driver gave the wheel a mighty yank as he pulled away from the stop and turned south on Bloomington Ave.

WHAT THE HELL! Damn! Damn! Damn! Where are we going? Am I being kidnapped? Why would anyone kidnap me? Where are we going? Maybe I am hostage! What am I going to do?

Calmly, I asked the driver, "Ah - Where are we going?"

"Downtown", he said, not looking at me as we crossed Minnehaha Parkway.

Hmm.... Downtown - that was good, Minneapolis is small enough that I could walk just about anywhere if I had to. But wait - these are the TWIN cities! It's a long damn walk from St. Paul...

"Which downtown?" I asked.

"(long pause) Minneapolis... do you want to get off?" He was now looking at me in the mirror.

Another long pause. "No - I am going to stick with this" I said.

The driver eyed me in the mirror again and kept going south on Bloominton and then west on 54th Street. The bus circled South MPLS and added people as we snaked up Chicago Ave., then headed onto I-35W at 35th Street. From there we expressed it into downtown.  Many of them knew each other, and it became apparent as we ventured on, that I had lucked into an express bus that had totally escaped my radar during my research.


The bus stopped a few blocks from my office and I got up to leave.  As I did so, I noticed that the driver was eyeing me in the mirror again. As I got off, the driver looked at me. I told him "this worked out very well, thanks." 

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