The Directionally Challenged and Chronically Late Person’s Guide of How Not to Ride a Bus

When I ponder the wonders of public transport, my experience is full of rather unfortunate stories which drastically overshine anything positive. Mainly, my dissatisfaction has to do with my own inadequacy: I’m a kid from the suburbs of Southern California, so sitting in a Prius on a highway full of traffic is much more my forte. Consequently, I’ve had my fair share of fumbles since I moved down to San Diego sans automobile.

Almost every day this week, I’ve had to run to catch a bus to school. Sweat dripped down my brow as the thump of sneakers desperately slapping the pavement resounded throughout the block, but I was lucky enough to make it each time. While these events challenged the questionable machinery of my cardiovascular system, I was also inspired to call upon the other bus-related fails that occurred throughout my college life.

As a method of comforting the public-transport-phobes of this world, I’ve decided to share my most memorable bus anecdotes to date. Some of these happened as early as my first year, but I still anticipate many more incidents will occur in my future.

Without further ado, please enjoy my tales of woe and suffering.

Taking the Long Way to UTC

Most people have taken a wrong bus or two in their time, right? Please say yes, since my ego would love to believe I’m not the only fool in this world.

During my first year, I needed to buy a dress for my college’s semi-formal dance, so, naturally, I waited until the day of the event to do so. I was lucky enough to finish class in the morning on Fridays, leaving a perfect gap in the early afternoon to do a dash of shopping. Since nobody else could accompany me, I decided to venture to Westfield UTC on my own for the very first time.

As the naive freshman I was, I cluelessly checked my transit app for what bus to take, without knowing that most buses wound up at UTC anyway. Route 30 arrived first, so I hopped on with the greatest amount of fake confidence I could possibly muster.

Before long, I realized that this bus was going toward the beach, away from the mall. Not surprisingly, my unwillingness to read signs had gotten me in trouble.

It turns out that each bus route goes two opposite ways, in this case toward downtown and toward UTC, a fact which escaped the comprehension of my first-year-sized brain. With my phone on less than 10-percent battery, I scrambled to depart the vehicle before I somehow ended up on a deserted street corner in Old Town.

In an effort to lighten my mood, I thought I could briefly visit the ocean while I was in the area. Much to my chagrin, high tide had reduced the entire beach to a mushy sand pudding. Back to the bus stop I went, sighing the entire way.

Please, don’t forget to double check bus routes. Learn from my stupidity.

A Secretive Encounter

Based on my experience, bus culture depends very highly on not looking at or talking to the strangers who are forced into this confined space together. If someone breaks this taboo, I have no choice but to be a tad suspicious.

I decided on this rule after one bus ride to the beach with friends, during which the three of us stumbled into a random conversation with a man nearby. Granted, I couldn’t hear much of this exchange myself, but I was constantly in battle mode in case either of my friends thought he said something weird. After watching them nod and smile awkwardly for about 15 minutes, we finally reached our stop.

My friends informed me afterward that the man was adamant about us girls needing to see this secret spot by the beach, a name which now escapes my memory. For all I know, it could have been a legitimate place, but to my ears, his request sounded like, “Hey you three, come to this sketchy, made-up location where I may or may not kidnap you!” Yeah, no thank you.

Sometimes bus rides themselves don’t seem all that bad, but it only takes one weirdo to change that.

Teased, Taunted, and Trifled With

Picture this: It was Saturday morning, and I decided to get a nice brunch with my roommate down at Caroline’s Seaside Cafe. Suddenly, things took a turn for the worse, since the kitchen got my order wrong, and I didn’t have a receipt (wasting paper is bad!) to prove my purchase. After a grueling 30 minutes of waiting for my food to be remade, I finally got to inhale that precious French toast down my esophagus.

Once that emotional rollercoaster had been crash-tested, we headed back to the bus stop to make the trip home. Alas, the bus was already preparing to drive away! My roommate and I made a break for it, speed walking as if our lives depended on making this specific bus. Which in a way, it kind of did; route 30 only comes every half hour on weekends.

Fortunately for us, the bus driver saw us. Unfortunately for us, he just honked at our pitiful struggle, only to leave us in his apathetic dust. In a sweaty fit of rage, we decided to walk all the way home.

Get to the stop on time, people. It’s too painful to endure this kind of torture.

Final Thoughts

For the people who dislike buses just as I do, look on the bright side! The more failures I brought upon myself, the more I learned from my mistakes. Therefore, nobody is hopeless. Plus, my own screw-ups brought this article into the world, so I’m glad I didn’t suffer for nothing.

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