The bus arrived on time today, by which I mean it showed up when it usually does. It did not arrive at the time scheduled. I suppose it would be if it did, but it would also be impossible.
Its scheduled arrival time was 6:45 and it arrived five minutes after that. This is normal. I’ve ridden the bus for years and it has never arrived at 6:45.
None of this is the driver’s fault. He cannot simply leave five minutes earlier to make it right. There is a stop before mine at 18th and Castro where the scheduled time is 6:40. The bus arrives there on time almost every day. That leaves five minutes to get to 26th and Valencia, which is possible if there is zero traffic and he makes every light. He also may need to blow through a stop sign or two.
So each day, the driver is set up to fail because he is given a timetable that is impossible to meet. This is just a small example of why the world is an unjust place. If you need a bigger one, just look around. They’re not hard to find.
I was relieved that the bus showed up at all. Something happened on Friday and Monday, and I don’t know what.
Friday was especially puzzling. It’s a light commute that day, both in terms of traffic and number of passengers. As is often the case on a Friday morning, I was the only one at the stop waiting for my bus. As minutes passed and the expected arrival time lapsed, I started to wonder if the bus had come and I failed to notice it because I was dicking around on my phone.
It wasn’t the possibility of this arose. On the afternoon of the Friday before Memorial Day, I found myself in a similar situation. On that occasion, ended up taking a later bus and did not find out what happened until I checked my work email when I got back from a week’s vacation.
“Bus broke. Tough shit. Take another one.” -Team Privilegemobile
OK, I’m paraphrasing. My takeaway was that all will be explained in due time so when the later bus arrived that Friday morning, the first thing I did was bust out my laptop and check email.
During the day, I wrote some code (python instead of perl for a change) and all but forgot about my morning commute. During lunch, I surfed a little real-estate porn because of a long-term goal of moving to Portland. There were some nice town homes in the $300K range, something unheard of in the Bay Area for a very long time. Ultimately, the diversion got depressing. It’s going to be at least a couple of years before we move up there so this kind of porn proved itself to be as unrealistic as any wank fodder.
Outside at the bus stop, the morning’s mystery was back in my head, albeit not getting star billing. I was thinking about a story I had started a few days earlier then abandoned it once I realized it sucked. It had an atrocity depicted with little left to the imagination, but that was its only asset. I was making a promise to myself to sprinkle some literary value on that dung heap when the bus arrived.
Only it wasn’t the same bus. It was smaller, not short-bus smaller, but a step in that direction. It was also a mystery solver. A replacement bus meant that a bus needed replacing.
I boarded the vehicle and the first thing I noticed was how fancy its interior was. The window blinds were akin to what one might find in the home. In the front of the bus, there were two rows of seats facing each other like a booth in a restaurant. I moved to my usual spot at the back of the bus and plopped my ass into an unexpectedly soft seat cushion.
It all felt like a slice of heaven until we got on the highway. It was then that I discovered that the bus had no shock absorbers to speak of. The extra cushion in the seats came in handy every time the bus hit a bump and sent me airborne.
To be fair, I don’t think the vehicle was ever intended for intercity travel. Its designers probably intended it to shuttle white-collar dullards between a Marriott Courtyard and some conference at the Expo Center.
Since I am prone to motion sickness, reading was out of the question. I spent the trip staring out of the window and waiting for it all to be over.
Monday was another no-show for the morning bus. This time I had the reassurance of fellow stranded passengers around me. Fifteen minutes into our delay, one of them was on the phone to the shuttle service wondering what the holdup was. The customer-service rep assured her that a bus would coming along in 30 minutes. There was no truth in what was said, but it did succeed in getting the caller to hang up.
I waited until the next scheduled bus arrived. It was not time wasted. I spent the hour reflecting on what I witnessed and thinking about all the lies people have told to make others go away. I’ve been on both sides of that equation more times than I can remember. That’s probably true of most folks. I thought about a world where that was the driving force of society and concluded that it wouldn’t be such a bad place, no worse than what we have going on right now.