Friday, Friday, Friday. Half workday, half weekend. And enough travel for both. Getting to work and getting home with my new friends Bus and Bike were golden. I even coordinated a perfectly timed bus/bike trip home over my lunch hour! Excellent. However, end of Friday = going out on the town. And of course, a First Friday falls right in the middle of this little experiment. So, I get home in plenty of time. Get ready. Get the dog fed. And get out the door with my guy (who is a trooper again!). And as I’m steps away from the bus stop … It rolls right past us. Drat! (And I can’t even blame the bus for being early; this is another case of user error.)
So, we think about our options. 1) We can wait 45 minutes for the next bus. Nope – that would get us into the city too late to meet up with our friends. 2) We can go to the bus stop on the other side of the neighborhood to catch a different route. Feasible – but checking the schedule – both buses pass by opposite ends of the neighborhood at the same time. If we missed one – we’ve missed them both. 3) We can bike into the city to get around and plan to bus home. Unfortunately, we’re a one-bike household, and hopping on the handlebars doesn’t work as well as it did when I was 8 years old. 4) I, still personally car-less, can ride-share with someone else who is going downtown anyway. We rationalize it enough and I hop in the passenger side of the car.
We park centrally and get walking – hitting up RiverScape, the Cannery and the Oregon District in the course of the night. Passing by many, many zombies (and a few friends) on the way back to the car. Good thing we had the car – no buses were running by the time our night came to a close. We would have cabbed it home or ditched out early. That’s life without a car, but I was car-pooling!
So – back to being 100% car-less for Saturday. Ready to work and make up for Friday night’s carpool. Started the day off right with a nice walk for some coffee. And then planned to spend the afternoon cleaning, doing laundry and grocery shopping. Oh – cripe! Grocery shopping. And I’ll tell you – it was worse than I thought. Checking the online trip planner, they recommend taking a bus a few miles in the opposite direction of where I’m headed in order to grab a transfer and come back to be dropped off directly next to the store. However, I decide that being family able-bodied that I’ll take a direct bus down to a stop less than 1/2 mile from the grocery and walk over. No problem.
Except now that I’m in the store, I’m feeling the pressure. As readers have advised, I need to be at my bus stop 5 minutes early. I usually can enjoy grocery shopping, but with the pressure of the bus schedule on my mind, there’s no cruising the aisles and finding something new to try or comparing prices for me. I’m in the store feeling the stress; I’m rushing up and down aisles, grabbing just what I need, and getting up to the check-out line within 30 minutes to catch the next bus back out. I’m even making the choice NOT to buy some heavier objects because I’m thinking of how to carry everything. I get out to the bus stop, unload my bags from the cart, rush the cart back to the parking lot, and get seated 5 minutes early. And I wait. And I wait. And the bus is 10 minutes late.
Finally, as the bus is pulling up, nice guy next to me on the bench offers to help load my bags onto the bus. I’m ready to set them on the floor by a seat, but he kindly points out the lil’ area up front specifically designed for this stuff. Yay for help! Since I made the decision not to buy the heavy stuff on this trip, I opt to take a direct route to my neighborhood. Then I walk the 0.3 miles to my home. Longest walk of my life. Even without that case of beer, the groceries are making their weight known. The crazy heat and humidity that rolled in Saturday afternoon didn’t help either.
Lesson learned: Strategy is important. I’m being somewhat fast and loose with my decisions because I’m experimenting through trial and error and checking out all sorts of different options. If this were my life, both experience and necessity would lead to specific choices. Grocery shopping on the bus requires making the right choices: a smaller trip with manageable bags is walkable, a lil’ foldaway cart to roll groceries home can help, or a careful selection of products (i.e. not ice cream) allows you to take the bus that requires a 45 minute trip.
As afternoon turns to evening, I’m heading to church. Even though there’s a church within walking distance, we’re members somewhere a bit further off. And there’s a perfect bus to get us to our church at a decent time, but not so much to get home. And lo, another slight inconvenience of this adventure: an unfortunate lack of choice. Now, is there anything wrong with this local church? Of course not,we just don’t happen to choose it. But Saturday, we didn’t get the luxury of choice.
After church, it’s time to plan for the evening. Since I just did grocery shopping, I wasn’t anticipating dinner downtown, but with the bus schedule being what it was – I had no choice. There was no option for dinner at home and catching a bus for the show. So – we rode. Zoomed right down to the front door of the restaurant, had a relaxed dinner and then picked up a different bus about an hour later to get to the hub. It was a short walk from the hub to the Victoria Theater and we were on-time for the concert.
Post-concert was more of a challenge. It’s that need for strategy coupled with the lack of leisure time. By the time we got out of the show, there was only one bus we could catch to get us back home. We had an hour to kill, but it wasn’t quite enough time to join the crew for the official after-show party. Plus – it was raining. Hard. So, we ran next door to Uno’s, hung out at the bar to kill some time, and then we ran for the hub and waited for the bus. I usually down-size the purse when going out for the evening, but again – the bus requires strategy. I should have packed a larger bag with a sweater and umbrella, instead I just got cold and wet.
Sunday – was an “off day.” Not for any reason than I’m designating this adventure about being car-less in Dayton. ‘Tis the season for graduation parties, so I headed to Columbus for the family. I suppose I could have bused to the airport, flew to Columbus, taken the COTA out to the party and then reversed it all to get home. But I didn’t. And I’m okay with that. Hope you are, too.
Up next – my last days car-less and learning more about the people who ride the bus.