I’m sure the bus driver thought we were crazy.
The Commodore and I, mere freshmen at the time, had grown tired of dining hall fare and decided to take advantage of the communal kitchen in our dorm. We weren’t too ambitious – something as simple as pasta and Parmesan would have made us happy. But neither of us had any ingredients, and the small convenience-store-like market downstairs didn’t stock much beyond dental floss, Snapple, and crackers. So we needed to go grocery shopping.
We didn’t have a car, either.
So we decided to take the bus.
We boarded the bus early in the evening, joining a handful of grad students who lived off campus and the few fellow dorm-dwellers who were venturing outside university-owned territory. We wanted to be back for youth group at 8:00, so we figured we had allowed plenty of time. The Commodore, better versed in the bus routes than I, showed me the loop we would be taking on the map. Our chosen bus ran through the part of town affectionately known as Apartment Land (where we now live), then through campus to the downtown area where Safeway awaited. It would be a while, but it was better than walking.
Eventually, as another batch of upperclassmen got off to trudge toward their respective apartment complexes, I asked which bus we would take to get back. The Commodore flipped through the bus schedule while I mused aloud about the weirdness of boarding public transportation with bags of groceries at our feet.
“I’m sure we’re not the only students to do it,” the Commodore said, scanning the page. “This is a college town. Plenty of people probably don’t have cars.” She pointed to a colored route on the map. “This is the one we’ll take back.”
“OK. How often does it come? Is this going to be a super speedy shopping trip, or do we have time for Starbucks?”
“Ummm…” She ran a finger down the column of ETAs for each stop. “Uh oh.”
As it turned out, we were on a daytime bus that was making its last loop of the day. The night schedule wouldn’t start until 9:00 pm – an hour after youth group – and it wouldn’t get to Safeway until almost 10:00 – an hour after the store closed.
So we sat and we rode the bus all the way through its loop back to our dorm. The driver gave us a puzzled look when we stayed on all the way through town, even when he had to stop at the transit center for almost 20 minutes. By the time we got back to our dorm, we were the last people on the bus. Stepping off, we smiled and thanked the driver, who just sort of squinted at us before driving away. We ended up with no groceries, no dinner, and not going to youth group either!
I was thinking about this adventure while riding the bus home last week. I truly hate the crowded nature of bus travel, so I’ve learned to time my rides home, waiting until about 20 minutes after classes let out and the swirling mass of people leaving campus has ebbed. I have the bus tracker that allows me to get to the stop right on time, and I know exactly which routes to take depending on which building I’m coming from.
This is a far cry from our unexpected full-circle ride freshman year.
College, of course, is about much more than learning to navigate public transit and plan your grocery shopping trips better. But it’s those unexpected parts of my college education that have arguably helped me grow the most.
PS – this is my 100th post on this blog! Which is strange to think of. When I started, I figured it would be a once-a-week thing that might trail off into oblivion once I got bored, but instead it’s been a way for me to chronicle and process my thoughts, as well as keep up my (admittedly sporadic) writing habit.
Thank you to everyone who finds reading about my life to be entertaining – I hope you enjoy what you find here.