Sunday, April 26, 2015

Let It Ride

Brace yourself for a shock, but I actually chose to miss my bus the other night and I’m so glad I did.

This may not sound like a big deal to you out-of-towners, but usually New Yorkers will ruthlessly trample children, little old ladies, foreign dignitaries or any other hapless son-of-a-bitch who comes between us and our manic desire to get to some place other than the one we’re currently occupying.

Most evenings I come out of my building on lower Broadway and either speed walk or flat-out run up to the X27 bus stop a block away. The urge to sprint is almost impossible to resist.

If the bus is leaving, I’ll stand outside the door with my pathetic puppy face on and silently beg the driver to open up so I can get home right now—as opposed to waiting 10 whole, agonizing minutes for the next bus.

But last week I decided to give my Pavlovian instincts the night off so I could stop and smell the exhaust fumes. And it paid off big time.

I’d had a shockingly bad day at work—worse than usual if you can believe that—and I limped out onto the street wondering if I should just swan dive into the nearest sewer.

Yes, the day sucked that much.

As I walked up Broadway, I saw an X27 pulling in to pick up passengers. I was still a good distant away, but had this been any other night I would have broken into a demented dash and flailed my arms manically in a desperate attempt to get the driver to wait.

But I was so emotionally worn out that I couldn’t have run for that bus if had been filled to the rafters with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models.

It wasn’t easy, I must confess. As the bus lingered to pick up the last few people, I felt like a heavyweight champion taking a dive. What self-respecting New Yorker refuses the challenge of a commuter run?

No, I told myself, you’re a human being, not a Greyhound. Just relax and get home in one piece.

Step to the Rear

And to be brutally honest, what’s all this headless chicken running ever done for me?

I’m supposed to race home so I could be miserable and alone in my apartment a few minutes ahead of schedule? No, thank you.

So the bus left, I got on line, and tried unsuccessfully to forget that the entire day. I was slipping into a standing stupor when I heard someone call my name.


I turned to see this young Asian woman on line behind me. She obviously knew me, but I was drawing a blank on her identify. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I didn’t think my brain cells had gotten this stale.
Then she mentioned something about the boxing class at the New York Sports Club, which I go to on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I instantly remembered her—this was Connie, who used to go to the 7 AM class at Reade Street.

Connie was a great athlete and, even though she’s physically small, she’s a ferocious puncher. Whether pounding on the heavy bag or doing mitt work with Abby, our instructor, you always knew when Connie was in the house.

She fought out a crouch and packed a lot of power into her punches and whenever I watched her working out I was always so glad that we were friends.

I had not seen Connie in such a long time and I wondered what had happened to her. Well, it turns she’d had a baby, God bless her, and, not surprisingly, didn’t have time for much else.

It felt so good to see her again. We chatted briefly before Connie’s bus, the X28, showed up, and she got ready to leave.

This brief encounter had done a lot to make me forget the horrendous day. Connie, of course, had no idea how much our chance meeting had done for me.

“I’m so glad I missed my bus,” I blurted and she smiled and wished me well.

My bus came moments later and as I got on I realized that I had been given a tremendous gift in the last few minutes, but I hadn’t missed a thing.


Bijoux said...

What a great ending. I'm sure I'd be the same way, running to catch a bus like a crazy person, just to get home a few minutes early. I'm glad you got the chance to meet up with an old friend.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Bijoux. There's something about New York that brings out the crazy in people. It felt good going against that awful tide.

Ron said...

"... and our manic desire to get to some place other than the one we’re currently occupying."

OMG, Rob, I'm not even a New Yorker but I do the same thing. Most people here in Philly walk VERY slow on the sidewalks and it drives me crazy. I will often have to slow myself down by saying, "Why the hell are you in such a RUSH?" And it's funny because I do this whether I'm in a hurry to get somewhere or not - I automatically rush.

"...and as I got on I realized that I had been given a tremendous gift in the last few minutes, but I hadn’t missed a thing."

Wonderful lesson you shared in that because it's so true. When we just go with the flow of the moment, we leave ourselves open to experience what's supposed to happen - like your chance meeting with Connie.

Thanks so much for sharing this experience, buddy. You reminded me of something that I need to do myself.

Have a faaaabulous week!

P.S. Love the pictures you used for this post!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, what do you say?

That's an excellent point you made--got with the flow of the moment and we leave ourselves open to what's supposed to happen! Brilliant!

I know the rush for no reason mindset all too well and I want to change. It's time we all slowed down a little and enjoyed life. There's no telling who you might meet!

Take care, buddy and have a fabulous week!

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

I love stories like that. They restore my faith that the universe knows what it's doing!

Nice to hear that your bad day turned into an inspirational one - and it was your choice, and your actions that did it!

Rob K said...

Thank you, Jay!

It was such a nice experience and the fact that I had played a role in bringing it about makes it even nicer!

Stephanie Faris said...

I used to ride the bus to work every day and the conversations I had at the bus stop were some of the best talks I had all day. Eventually, I made my way into the group of people who sat at the back of the bus and cut up all the way home every day. I'd avoided it for a year because I wanted to read my book, but I loved the camaraderie of hanging out with fellow commuters and laughing.

Rob K said...

Yes, Stephanie, you can meet some fabulous people on the ride home from work!

A Cuban In London said...

I love your insight into one of the cities I have always wanted to visit. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

My pleasure! Come and visit us!