A good book and a 'quick' trip

Janet's World

May 06, 2010|By Janet Gilbert

Last weekend, I took the Megabus into New York City, my goal neither sightseeing nor shopping, but moving my daughter out of her dorm. I packed my Kindle and clothes into a large purse and conferred on myself the honor of being one of America's Top 10 Blandly Dressed, Low-Maintenance Women. Then I stuffed a huge empty backpack into the roomiest suitcase I could find and drove to the White Marsh park-and-ride lot to catch the bus.

I arrived in New York on time Friday night and took a cab to my daughter's dorm. Saturday, we jammed all manner of college essentials into the empty bags I brought and purchased a couple of shipping boxes for the rest of her stuff. Sunday morning, it was time to get back to the Megabus with my megaluggage.

Naturally, it was raining, so it took a little longer to hail a cab. The driver and I struggled to heft the bags into the trunk, and it took me a full five minutes to wrest them out on my own when we arrived at the bus stop 10 minutes later. As I dragged myself to the curb like an urban Sherpa, I thought: "Once I'm on that bus and out of this rain, I can finally relax."


The bus was late. I boarded and sank into my seat on the upper level. The driver made the usual announcements about delayed arrival times in Baltimore and Washington, due to the weather, and the bus lurched off. I checked my watch and realized it still indicated the time at which its battery had died the previous evening. Lulled by the motion of the bus and the fact that I was finally feeling warm and dry, I pulled out my Kindle and settled in for some nice, uninterrupted reading time.

Some time later, I checked my cell phone for the accurate time, and realized we were running about an hour late for Baltimore. At least that was my first groggy thought. But then a more realistic one seeped in. The guy next to me on the Megabus was sleeping, but he sure jolted upright when I turned to him and asked in a high-pitched panic, "Excuse me, did this bus already stop in Baltimore?"

"Yes, about an hour ago," he said.

"How could I have missed it?" I said.

"You missed it?" he said.

"I was reading!" I said.

"You definitely missed it," he said.

It is hard to believe that we had this ridiculous conversation repeating the obvious, but apparently this was necessary in order for the truth to sink in as well as to amuse the other passengers. I was now well on my way to Washington.

For a guy who was asleep two seconds before, my seatmate sprang boldly into action. He told me the D.C. stop was close to Union Station, where I could catch an Amtrak train back to Baltimore. He even looked up the schedule for me on his iPhone. I thought, "How ironic, that technology has both doomed and saved my trip!"

I called my husband, and we had the exact same conversation as the one I had with my seatmate, only this time so he could grasp the reality that I had overshot my itinerary.

The bus stopped in D.C. a few minutes later. I lugged the tonnage of luggage into yet another cab, through yet another crowded depot, and onto yet another means of mass transit. I disembarked in Baltimore about two hours later, where I waited for my very bemused, slightly annoyed husband to pick me up and drive me another 45 minutes or so to the Park and Ride to retrieve my car.

All told, it took me about five extra hours to get home. But the good news is, I read an entire book. And it was really, really good.

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