Friday, March 25, 2011

Missynation Takes the Bus

On Wednesday, I took the metrobus for the first time ever.  Like, in my life.

I’ve taken metrorail thousands of times, so it’s not that I’m a neophyte to public transportation or some sort of Public Transit snob. I’ve just never had a need to take the bus.  I usually take the subway (or Metrorail, as they call it here, or, just metro…) to work or I will walk to & from work since I only live about 2.5 miles from work.

My friend recently moved to the Columbia Heights area of DC and she suggested that I take the bus up to Columbia Heights to meet her for dinner one night and see her new place.  She even mentioned that the bus that would take me right up to about a block away from her place and the bus could pick me up one block away from my work. 

A sign for the bus stop!

And, look!  A bus stopped!

I’ll usually try anything once, so I was game.  But, did I mention that I’ve never taken the bus before?  ‘Cause I haven’t.  Ever.  Except once, years ago, in Edinburgh, Scotland and I ended up going on an extended tour of the city at about 11pm.  Until the bus driver stopped the bus, told me I’d run out the original fare I put in, and had to pay again.  I had no change, so I had to run (literally; he said he’d wait 2 minutes) to a Sainsbury’s (which is a grocery store in England & Scotland) to try to get some change.  It was bewildering.  And, I think that bus driver was a jerk.

So, I was a little nervous about taking the bus.

I must have checked the schedule two dozen times to be sure I would get to the bus stop in time. (mind you, the bus stop was a whole 5 minute walk – if that – from my office.)  When I got to the stop, I quadruple-checked the schedule and that it would go where I needed it to go.  I even counted the number of stops listed before I needed to get off. (What? Who said I was paranoid? I’m not paranoid…)

I studied this like I was going to be tested on it

Two other busses came by before the one I was supposed to get on.  People waiting seemed relaxed and it seemed to be pretty straightforward.  Nobody seemed to be panicking. 
not my bus

MY bus!!!!
Finally, I saw “my” bus coming up to the stop.  I got on, swiped my smarttrip card, and sat down in the first seat I saw.  Everybody seemed relaxed, like this was no big deal.  Some folks were reading the paper, some folks were chit-chatting.  Two girls sitting behind me were discussing where to get off and what bus to transfer to to get where they needed to go, so at least I wasn’t the only one a little unfamiliar with the whole system. J

It turned out that I didn’t need to memorize the number of stops, because for each stop, the automated system on the bus would announce the next stop.  So, I just had to listen for “Irving & 14th Street, Next.”  Which allowed me to just look out the window at different parts of the city that I never really explore.  (Until my friend moved a few weeks ago, I didn’t know anybody who lived in that part of the city, so there was really no need for me to go up there.)
Inside the bus.  Notice the sign announcing the next stop.

 I saw lots of interesting statutes, different embassies, and a bustling area of the city at rush hour.  I also noticed an interesting ad on the bus that said “Use Cocaine? We want to talk to you!” (I bet, I thought.)  It was an ad looking for cocaine users to participate in a study on the effects of cocaine on the body and brain.  (not real sure why we need a study done on that.  Didn’t those folks see those ads with the whole egg that said ‘this is your brain’ and then an egg frying in a frying pan that said ‘this is your brain on drugs’?)  I haven’t yet seen that ad on the subway.  I have seen the ad asking if I take antidepressants or if I’m going through menopause, because they want to study me if I’ve got those things going on…

sorry it's blurry.  The ad says "Use Cocaine? It's confidental!"
I finally heard my stop announced and another person on the bus pulled the cord so “Stop Requested” was announced.  I was a little relieved, because, I didn’t know if I was supposed to say I needed to get off and if I didn’t, would the driver just ignore that stop?  On the Metrorail, the train stops at every station, regardless of whether someone gets on or off.  (I’ve only heard of them skipping a station once in the 10+ years I’ve lived here and that was on the blue line during a rush hour where the trains were really backed up and so they skipped the Arlington Cemetery stop, which actually made sense because it was after dark and I think the cemetery was closed anyway.)  Point is, the trains stop at every station.  Does the bus? I don’t know.  So, when someone said they needed to get off, I was somewhat relieved and just got off at the stop for Irving and 14th street.
Fin! At my destination

My friend was right there to meet me and so we started walking around until we found a nice place for dinner.

So, Missynation survived her first trip on the bus.  And I didn’t even have to run into a Safeway and get change!

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