At 28 years of age, it occasionally occurs to me that I’ve grown too old for certain things — not many things, but some. For example, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am too old to skip down the street in tap shoes, I cannot have temper tantrums in public, and my days of fervent belief in magical holiday heroes are long gone. There are other things I thought I had surely outgrown 15 years ago that, apparently, I have not. Close to the top of this list is missing the school bus.
I am now seven weeks into my journey toward beginning what I hope will be a reasonably dignified legal career. I find it ironic that I’m traveling the road to dignity in a school bus. This isn’t the kind of bus I rode in college from the parting lot across town to NC State’s campus — aside from being bright red, that one looked like a fairly grown-up public transportation bus. The bus I currently ride to and from school everyday is a yellow school bus painted white, with a red “T” on the front. This bus is free, and stops right outside of my apartment building, so I can’t complain. It saves me from spending money on the subway everyday, which in turn saves me from paying good money to be involuntarily exposed to strange men’s genitals … but that’s another story.
I love the fact that Temple provides this free service to students fortunate enough to live close to the Best Western-turned-dormitory at 22nd and Pennsylvania Ave. I just wish it didn’t feel quite so much like a school bus, complete with all the trappings of school busdom: the school bus smell, the crazy climate control, and the absolute worst — missing the bus.
This week has been a particularly bad bus week. Monday morning I stepped out of my apartment to see my bus driving by. Irritated, I immediately began thinking about all the little 10-second tasks I could have avoided. With my heart sinking, I crossed the street and plopped down on the rock wall in front of the building next door to wait for the next bus. I saw it pass on the opposite side of the street, heading toward the dorm. I know that when I see the bus pass, I can start walking and arrive at the dorm right as the bus arrives, assuring myself a spot. Lately, though, the drivers haven’t enforced the “no standees” rule, so I didn’t bother walking. About 10 minutes later, the bus blew right on by my stop, without even slowing down. Two buses in one morning — not a good Monday.
With unread cases burning a hole in my backpack, I was not to be deterred. I scurried down to the subway, barely sliding through the doors before the train pulled away. Making this close call made up for my two missed buses, and I was merrily on my way. I was pleased to discover upon arrival that I was only eight minutes behind schedule, which left an hour and 52 minutes in which to study before my first class. Not bad.
After greeting the morning security guard, and giving my daily silent hello to the portraits of Temple Law benefactors on the wall, I stopped by my locker (yes, we have lockers). There my whole morning crumbled. I opened my backpack to discover that I’d left my computer at home. No computer, no school. I stopped carrying paper to class after the first week. So, with a heavy heart, back to the bus stop I went. “At least it won’t be crowded,” I thought. “I can do a little reading on the way home.” I was partly right. Turn out no one, except people who forget their computer, leaves campus at 8:45 on Monday mornings. That being the case, the bus driver is really happy when he has someone to talk to. He’s a nice fellow and I couldn’t be rude, so I feigned interest in his theories on Lil Kim’s legal woes, and learned a little bit about what it’s like to be a school bus driver. He dropped me off at my stop, and I had just enough time to leisurely walk upstairs, swear at my computer for not hollering at me before I left the first time, and stroll back down to the bus stop. At least he picked me up this time around.
Still, it was better than the day I missed the bus and forgot my lunch (PB&J, a fruit cup, and baby carrots in a brown bag). I should have worn tap shoes.