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.
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.