But Don’t Say Bus… © 2018
By Dee-Dee Diamond
Pouring rain, high humidity, and anxiety. June 13, 2018. The turban bearded 777–7777 car driver, (that hardly spoke English), came for the 77-year-old lame me, plus 2 clumsy carpetbags.
The reason I’m forced to use these bags, is that one of my kids must have crammed my suitcase, (with wheels), in the high hall closet, of my Manhattan apartment. I was scared that if I pulled on anything blocking them, the rest of the closet would fall on me and bury me in the narrow foyer. Thus the 2 soft, yet hard to handle bags… had to do.
I’m off on an adventure in Baltimore.
I must get to Maryland for my grand-daughter, Marielle’s graduation from her residency as an official doctor.
Other family members are coming from other states.
My planned excursion by train is impossible, after learning there will be a 30-minute standing queue for me to get a porter, (once I am dropped off at Penn Station). I’ll need assistance for me to get down to the train, with my that is not recommended for person of my age, physical state…solo no less! My usual means of transportation is my Go-Go red electric scooter on which I pocket my folding paisley cane, for walking.
I can’t take my scooter; it would cause an inconvenience…so I am left to badly manage on my colorful cane.
An airplane is also out of the question as the Baltimore Airport is a 45-minute drive from her home… without traffic.
My young neighbor suggests “The Bolt Bus” as its non-stop and its destination, deposits me right near Marielle’s residence.
“My 777–7777 man” doesn’t know the exact physical bus stop, amongst the many, since he’s new on the job. I’m not any help since I never saw this busy bus stop terminal. I never used this mode of transportation, in my life.
He drives me to a corner. I get out to get some information…there is no employee of said Bus is around.
I am forced to hobble-run in the rain to ask each crowded line of passengers which is the 1:30 to Baltimore, but many do not speak English and seem lost themselves. Did I mention there are 2 lines to Baltimore mixed, as one line is for the previous bus, which is 30 minutes late. Meantime the nervous doubled- parked 777–7777cab, (with my bags), remained… around the corner. The poor man is weary of a ticket- writing cop. His crazed passenger, me, is running balancing on her cane, while up-holding an umbrella. This is while it pours ever heavier. My driver is quite perplexed as what he should do in this bad situation. Would he ride away and desert me, but an expensive ticket would apparently kill him? What a mess I got him in…
Finally, drenched I find a sign for “my bus”. I signal the wet 777–7777 driver standing at his car his flashing warning lights…ablaze.
He runs to my place on the line to “The City of Charm” -Baltimore, dropping my fabric bags on the puddled cement beside me. I give him a hefty tip as he trots back to his 777–7777 car, thoroughly soaked while muttering under his breath.
Passengers stare at this drama but no one offers to help me. As the line moves, I am forced to kick my heavy bags forward, one by one… what a challenge leaning on my cane, on the slippery pavement. This I am busy with, while not poking any one of the weary passengers… in the eye with my umbrella.
Finally, at the bus door, the arriving Bolt driver barks, “Put your bags in the “right bin” or risk them going to Washington…not Baltimore”!
A tall African traditionally- attired woman graciously aids me and puts my bags on the bus. She doesn’t speak English…but I thank her gratefully and she smiles in acknowledgement.
I plop on the empty first seat, which is at the front of the bus.
The grouchy driver announces in his belligerent manner, “No talking on cellphones… it bothers other passengers… I’m warning, right now… do not let the metal footrest in front of your seat to snap back when you take your feet off it. That noise upsets me, the driver, and you do not want to make me mad”! I fear him…
Who do you think accidently snaps the bar a few times losing balance…on the rattling bus…? Me.
He immediately is on the speaker yelling, “That’s coming from the left side”.
I timidly apologize a few times.
He is the bully of our motley group of passengers, and he lets us know that!
As we are now in the throes, (throws is more like it), of this 3 ½ hour ride, I notice additional problems for me…
(1) I forgot to bring food or drink for the ride. The smells of various Ethnic foods being consumed made me nauseated…then hungry. My mouth and throat were parched.
When a coughing young woman approached the driver and begged if we could stop at the coming service station for her to get a drink, as she was ill…he scolded, “No-this is a non-stop, get back to your seat”!
I had learned from her to keep my mouth, shut, and suffer. After all this was steerage- class like travel…I’m finding out…too late!
(2) Terror almost overtook me… I am the oldest human on this trip. I walk poorly, and I am situated, farthest from the toilet, at the very back of this fully packed bus.
When nature cannot be held at bay, I must navigate the long trek. Don’t ask about the trouble I caused!
The rickety, old vehicle was speeding over the wet road causing tremendous turbulence and sway. As I tried getting to the back, I inadvertently hit each aisle passenger with my cane or almost landed in their laps. I was an “equal opportunity” hitter. Sleeping persons awoke attempting to ward me off or keep me from falling.
Now, shaken and sweating, I arrive at the toilet…just in time!
It’s the size of half an old telephone booth, with just a hole in the floor. Try peeing over that with poor balance and a bouncing bus. I dreaded any part of my …unsteady posterior touching against its… disgusting interior.
Now began the obstacle path from whence I had arrived at the horror called the toilet.
Then on my way back I kept saying, “Sorry-sorry-sorry-excuse me-excuse me, I swear I’ll never travel on this bus …again”. I was mortified…and literally shook-up.
All nodded their heads in mass agreement and gave a collective sigh of relief when I made it finally back to my seat.
One woman yelled, “Thank the Lord’!