Maybe there weren’t any yetis, but it was still a crazy time.
I work downtown but live a hell of a lot more north than most of my co-workers, so when the snow started coming down around 4 PM yesterday, I knew I was in for a bit of adventure on my way home. They turned me loose a little bit before 5, and I made it to my main Metro station around a quarter to 6. Easy peasy, right?
That’s when the warning signs started to creep up on me, cackling and giggling with devious intent.
“Ooooh, you’re in for it now,” one said.
“I’ve been through worse,” the rational part of my brain offered. I’ve survived hurricanes, lightning strikes (granted, I was in a car at the time), and high school… what’s a snowstorm going to do to me?
It turns out that it’s not what the snowstorm can do to me, it’s what it can do to things out of my control… like buses. And people on the bus. And power lines. I’m getting ahead of myself, but I think you’re starting to get the idea as to what the hell to me happened last night…
HEY MAN, WE STUCK!
A bus finally pulled up sometime around 6:30, and after some hemming and hawing with the driver about what route she was going to take (she didn’t seem to have any clue as to what route she was on next, even though it was eventually the one we needed to take… physical foreshadowing at its finest), we were on our way. Slowly. Moving very slowly. I didn’t mind- I just sat back, Twittered a bit, and waited. I was going to get home somehow, and that was that.
Then the bus didn’t move for a while.
It turned out that there were a few cars stuck on the small incline in front of us, so the rest of the bus started hollering for the driver to drive around the stuck cars and continue on our merry way. She tried that, and we got stuck in a ditch. Cue more hollering. A woman’s three-year-old began to parrot his mom’s wonderful statements of “Sumbitch bus ain’t moving”, and my personal favorite after a while, “fucking bus ain’t moving”, so he fit in with the masses just fine. Besides, I find cursing toddlers hilarious.
As for the assorted people on the bus, well…
EVERY APOCALYPTIC SCENARIO NEEDS A COMEDIAN THAT IS SWALLOWED UP BY THE DARK FORCES AT THE END OF IT ALL
This situation’s comedian is best described an eighth-generation Tracy Morgan analogue, a man who would yell for non-existent weed, take a swig out of his conveniently stashed bottle of wine every so often, leave the bus to smoke a cigarette, and randomly shout how he “GOT A BULLET LODGED IN HIS SPINE SO WE NEED TO GET THE BUS MOVIN” or that he was “PREGNANT SO CALL 911”- in short, it was just the amount of levity people needed in order to almost laugh the situation off.
Except for the toddler.
Still parrotting his mom’s “fucking sumbitch” vocabulary, the little reality TV show star in training was hopping up and down on the bus, wondering why it wasn’t moving, yelling for his mom even though she was right there, and being a nuisance to everyone even though he didn’t know any better… until his mom made him stop all that nonsense via a Motherly Face Grab, some Shaking, and the “Sit Yo’ Ass Down” technique.
Small emergency situations involving a large group of people are microcosms of life… which is why when dominance started being established via alcohol, I wasn’t surprised.
DRINKING BEER AND WAITING FOR THE END SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD PLAN
The guy next to me had some Coronas in his bag, and proceeded to try and sell them off at $3 a bottle- “Better than the bar”, he proclaimed. Some folks were shocked, others took him up on the offer, and I just waited to see who was going to break the seal and venture out into the snow to pee.
Some poor girl did, but not because of beer. Everyone clapped. It’s odd as to what people will clap for and when, but I digress- things were getting out of control in a hurry. The bus driver had turned into a mute, deciding not to communicate with us directly over the bus speakers, as another passenger would shout out whatever she had to say to us.
AND THIS IS HOW IT WENT DOWNHILL- NOT THE BUS, BUT THE SITUATION
According to the bus driver (and relayed to us via the world’s worst game of Telephone), the next bus available to pick us up was forty-five minutes away. This was around 9 PM, and the bus driver wouldn’t say when she called her dispatch in order to attempt to get us some help. A few plows showed up but wouldn’t attempt to help us get out of the ditch, and people started to get antsy.
And then, It happened.
What is It, you ask? It is that moment when one comment turns a situation on its head, ups the stakes dramatically, and causes a panic that isn’t good for the situation whatsoever.
It went down like this: one passenger, a young lady who had been fairly quiet throughout the ordeal, suddenly stood up and shouted:
“Y’ALL! THERE IS A MCDONALDS TWENTY MINUTES AWAY, AND WE ARE SITTING UNDER TREES AND POWER LINES! THE POWER LINES ARE ABOUT TO SNAP! WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!”
I had more than a few issues with her statement- number one, how in the hell did she know about the situation with the power lines when she hadn’t been outside? Number two, yes there was a McDonalds’ twenty minutes away… on a good day, not in the middle of a crazy ass snowstorm. We were stuck on backroads, and what lanes were available were hideously compromised via snow and ice and stuck cars, not to mention that there was traffic still going in both directions when it could… so, uh, I found this little exclamation to be almost farcical… until I looked out the window and saw an electrical blue flash.
STAMPEDE, BUT NOT THE GOOD KIND.
Half the bus fled into the night- the Comedian was gone, the booze was gone, and it was like the end of The Mist. The movie, not the short story. Yes, it was getting that bad. The bus driver was still mum, almost catatonic, not saying a word, probably thinking she was way underpaid to deal with this shit and wondering who the hell had been drinking on the bus and why it smelled like cigarettes. Grouping up and pushing us out of the ditch wasn’t happening, so all we could do was wait.
At 9:45, the local Department of Transportation showed up with a plan- get on another bus, head back to the station, and they would get us home. Hooray! We were saved!
By 10, we’re back at the station. By 10:06, the bus driver is nowhere to be found. By 10:10, we are shit out of luck because there is no plan in place, no cabs running, and nothing to get the Stranded out of that station.
I was ready to walk at this point- all I had to do was navigate a major highway, make it to a side street a mile away, walk another mile and a half, and I was home free.
That’s when a few of us saw another bus. It wasn’t going anywhere near my neighborhood, but after asking the bus driver, he “confirmed” that he would be headed to a street near my apartment, which would have been a closer trek on foot.
SAVED! WAIT, NO… NOT AT ALL
Turns out, the bus driver had a talent for Lying Like The Dickens. He went the wrong way and almost skidded off the road, flipping the bus OFF A BRIDGE in the process. One stop later, and I was off the bus, determined not to get crushed in a bus and to get home via my own two feet. My phone had skipped out on the last fifteen percent of battery life, so it was me, my feet, two and a half miles of snow and ice, and a couple dozen plows and cars to dodge.
NUMBER OF NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES THAT NIGHT: FOUR
1) Power lines
2) Possible bus flippage and careening off a bridge
3) Death via plow and car – had to run out of the way into oncoming traffic
4) Death via skidding car on residential side street
If you can dodge a plow, you can dodge anything.
AND WHAT DID WE LEARN, CLASS?
The next time there’s a forecast for major snow in this area, I’m not going to work. Last night was a “karmically” funny thing that I will never, e-e-e-e-ever do again…