WHEN A BUS BREAKS DOWN
On Saturday evening I took the 6:30 Bolt Bus from Boston South Station which was scheduled to arrive to Manhattan at 10:45. Here are highlights from the trip.
- •I board around 6:15 and am pleasantly surprised by the amount of free seats. I snag an aisle seat six or so rows from the front. It has power outlet access. Clutch.
- •The remaining passengers arrive and take their seats. Still plenty of room to spare. It's 6:30 now. Time to hit the road. Onward.
- •The driver gets on the intercom, letting us know about the emergency exits and fire extinguisher. If any of the power outlets aren't working we are supposed to let him know. In this hypothetical scenario, would or could he actually do anything, since presumably he would be busy driving the bus? Unclear.
- •I start reading my Harper's. An excerpt from an upcoming Nietzsche volume called Anti-Education. Parallels.
- •At around 7:15 the bus comes to a slow stop on the highway. The driver gets out without saying anything, and goes to to look at the side of the bus. Nervous murmurs erupt from my fellow passengers. Anticipation.
- •He comes back and talks on his phone for a few minutes. He announces that the bus has broken down (the belt had fallen off while he was driving). A new bus will need to come pick us up. Bummer.I'm not too worried at this point. I've been on broken down buses before. I once took a NJ Transit bus that broke down inside the Holland Tunnel. We're 45 minutes at most from Boston. This is nothing.
- •There is currently no ETA and it's been about a half hour. It's getting pretty hot on the bus, so I go outside with my Harper's to cool down and enjoy the sunset. A few others are outside stretching and checking their phones and stuff. Chillin.
- •Another half hour goes by with no report. It's dark now. I take the opportunity to snag a Snapchat selfie with the bus in the background. I caption it "More like the BOLTED bus 😔". I check my email and see that the trip (which was $20) has been fully refunded. Tight.
- •It's getting chillier and I can't read my Harper's in the dark so I go back inside. Around 8:30, the driver announces that it will probably be another hour before the bus arrives. A passenger in the back quickly calls out "That's not what STACY said! She said a half hour!" Suspicious.I assume Stacy is a Bolt Bus customer support representative. I decide to go with the driver's estimate over Stacy's.
- •I use the next hour to tackle my unread work emails from the past week. I had been in the depths of Maine without cell service, so I'd racked up a few hundred messages. Time flies by as I read through them. I hit "Mark as unread" for the important ones I want to respond to on Monday. Strategic.
- •Around 9:30, someone complains about it being hot again. The driver responds with "You can go outside if you want." A few passengers debate whether going outside is worth the risk of being fatally struck by a high speed vehicle. I pretend to read my phone while listening. Amusement.
- •Two friends, both late teenage girls, seated a few rows behind me are talking loudly. One remarks "Everyone I like is from California." Implausible.
- •Around 10pm I get antsy and take the opportunity to engage the driver. I keep my tone friendly, assuming he would naturally be in defensive mode. He explains that it makes it much harder to coordinate a new pickup when it's the last route of the day. Still, he is surprised at the extent of the delay. It's never taken this long. Hapless.
- •The new bus pulls up at 10:45, three and a half hours after the breakdown. Sarcastic cheers are heard. Two touristy girls directly in front of me are taking a few moments to grab their bags from the top shelf. The woman behind me yells out "Ladies.. We've been sitting on this bus for too damn long. Get off the bus or get out of the way." Silence.
- •We exit the bus and people start loosely gravitating toward the new bus. The driver yells at us and says to wait. 15 seconds later he says OK we can get on now. I notice that a state trooper has arrived and is shining his flashlight around the nearby grassy area. Conspiracy.
- •We start to board the bus. Someone asks "Same seats right?" No one responds. Acceptance.