Like Christmas day

My wife and I moved back to Minneapolis in Spring of 2006 after a 5-year hiatus from the Twin Cities to sample the East Coast and then Anchorage, Alaska.  If anyone has moved to, or from, Alaska, you will doubtlessly know that it can take 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 Pacific Ocean for the next several weeks, I was forced to be car-free after the move, 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 (stupidly inefficient, I now know). On Sunday night, I studied my bus schedule one last time, I loaded my backpack with my pass, bus schedule and a magazine to read on the bus. I was so ready.

Like Christmas day, I woke up a little too early on Monday morning, not wanting to be late for my bus. Because she is a kind and caring person (and patient with me), my wife got up, too, and walked with me to the bus stop (in retrospect, this was a lot 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 Bloomington Ave., where we commenced to 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 espresso 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 ready.

Within a minute, a bus pulled up to the stop. 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 swiped my bus pass and turned to sit, noticing immediately that I was the only passenger on the bus. As we pulled away, I looked back at the coffee shop as we pulled away.

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! Why would the bus driver kidnap me? 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…

“Um… 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 on my part. “No – I am going to go for it” I said.

The driver eyed me in the mirror again and kept going south on Bloomington and then west on 54th Street. The bus did a lap around South MPLS and added people as we snaked up Chicago Ave., then headed onto I-35W at 35th Street. From there we expressed it downtown.  I had lucked into an express bus that had totally escaped my radar during my research.

Sweet!

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 for me, thanks.” 

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