I want my car back.
Lets be honest: sure, public transportation is better for the environment. And cheaper. And more efficient. But sometimes I just don’t feel like schlepping my crap on a bus/subway/shuttle full of other people, especially during the holidays. But in the spirit of the Big Apple (and the fact that I’m a little strapped for cash) I decided to take the bus to and from La Guardia.
My flight out on Tuesday was at 12:45, but since I wasn’t sure where I was going, I decided to be extra early (that and my dad texted me “get there early” a bajillion times). I HopStopped it, I looked at MTA time tables, basically quadruple-checked the 2 buses I had to take. I even scoped out the bus stop the day before to avoid a 7am melt down.
The big day arrives, and after rolling my suitcase through the nasty slushy blizzard leftovers, Im waiting patiently at the bus stop by 7:30am. Get on the bus, Im the only one on there. I was so excited; I thought I was going to have to stand cradling my suitcase the whole way to the airport. I even texted my roommate “buses are my new favorite mode of transportation”. False. This bus is the kind that only stops when you pull the cord to request it, but seeing as how I had no idea where I was going, I asked the driver every few stoplights “Is this the M60?….Is THIS where I catch the M60?” He finally says “Here, get off here, cross the overpass, and the M60 should be here soon, right by that white building”. Great! I’m way ahead of schedule!
I stand with the other people, and its only a few minutes until the M60 comes. It says La Guardia on the front, and there’s a pilot on the bus! Perfect! I get on, the bus starts going, then a few stops later the pilot gets off. Um, okay, no big deal. Then we drive back over a bridge and back into Manhattan. And by Manhattan I mean Harlem. Okay. Don’t panic. All these buses go in loops Im sure, you’ll make it to the airport eventually.
This little 6 kid sits down next to me (its packed on the bus, by the way, and my suitcase is seriously in the way) and says, “Where are you going?” “The airport.” “Why?” “So I can go home.” “Where do you live?” “In Manhattan.” “Me too!” Okay little kid, not the time I want to have small talk about our residency. His mom overheard me though, and says “Don’t you know the airports the other way?” “Yeah I sort of figured that out by now, but I didn’t know what to do.” Also wanted to add that even if I did know what to do, I wasn’t 100% sure I could get off the bus and keep my laptop and luggage. She said all I had to do was get off at the next stop and cross the street and get on there. So I did. Thirty minutes later, I passed the stop where I had gotten on originally. I had gotten on on the wrong side of the street.
45 minute early-morning detour through Harlem: humorous.
30 minute after-dark wait at a sketchy bus stop in a bad part of Queens: not humorous.
I thought that my trip back tonight would be easy since I already knew where I was going. Didn’t think about the fact that waiting for half an hour in a bus shelter in Queens at night probably wasn’t the safest thing I’d ever done. I kept a death grip on my suitcase and tried to ignore all the black town cars that drove by and honked, implying that they were reliable cabs ready to drive me home. When I did finally catch the connecting bus, I was treated to a father passing along seeds of wisdom to his kids, including the “fact” that “swine flu is spread from eating sick pigs.”
Thus concludes the Adventures in Public Transportation, Part 1.
Although there is a prequel to this: one of my first nights here I was taking the subway downtown. It was after dinner, and the subway car was mostly empty, save a guy across from me playing Tetris or something on his phone. I avoided all eye contact with people in the train (I’d heard stories, you know) and more or less kept to myself. When this kid goes to get off at his stop, he holds his phone up to my face, where he had typed “You’re pretty exposed down there”, and then walks off the train. Seriously? What does that even mean?