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When car-free life hands you lemons, pour yourself a glass of eggnog.

December 7, 2010

He makes it hard to be Scroogey.

Last weekend, public transportation made me hate my life.

I was on my way from Denver to Boulder to see my friend, Rebecca, perform with her belly-dancing class at Naropa University. Despite an as-yet-undiagnosed left-big-toe malady that made walking rather painful, I’d decided the event was worth the trip.

I had walked to Civic Center Station, taken RTD‘s FREE MallRide to Market Street Station, and positioned myself at gate 8 to await the 5:38 p.m. B bus. If things had gone according to my plan, I would have boarded that bus, arrived at Boulder’s Walnut Street Station at 6:29 p.m. , walked the remaining distance to Naropa, and arrived at 7 p.m., right in time for the hip-shaking.

The B bus was a half-hour late.

This made it impossible for me to make it to the show on time. The reason for the bus’s tardiness was a large amount of traffic—both auto and foot—in the downtown area, due to Denver’s annual Parade of Lights. After a small stomping fit, I recalculated my options for the evening and made the quick decision to abort the trip and join up with other friends in Denver.

Because of the gridlocked traffic and closed streets downtown, I couldn’t ask anyone to come pick me up at the station. No problem. I’d just take the Mall shuttle back to my neighborhood and meet up with them somewhere there. Steeling myself against both the cold and the big-toe pain, I went outside to the shuttle stop, just in time to hear the driver announce that, due to the parade, the Mall shuttle would be closed for the next 90 minutes.

Denver does it up for the holidays.

I considered my situation: Nearly two miles from home, with a toe-ache and no means of transportation but my two feet.

Just then, a giant, inflated penguin wearing a drum major hat floated by.

I hit the pause button my grumpiness for a minute and looked around me. The streets of downtown Denver were packed with people, all bundled up against the December chill, pushing strollers and dragging toddlers by the hand, clutching cups of coffee and cocoa.

And most of them were smiling.

I began the walk home. I settled into a pace that kept the toe pain to a minimum. This pace also allowed me to take in the vision of a carousel float blaring Mannheim Steamroller and to catch a glimpse of a high school marching band decked out in twinkle lights. I stopped at the Denver Municipal Building to snap a picture of its cupola, which is illuminated special for the holidays each year.

Then, I remembered something: I freaking love this time of year.

While I hated to disappoint Rebecca, I suddenly felt lucky to be stuck in Denver. If the bus hadn’t been late, I would’ve totally missed the parade, with all its holiday cheer, community togetherness, and general warm fuzziness.

I continued my leisurely pace, stopping now and then to check out a float or listen to carols. When I got home, I poured myself a glass of eggnog, turned on the Christmas radio station, and soaked my toe in hot water and Epsom salt.

Car-freely,
Amy

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Melanie Evans permalink
    December 7, 2010 11:45 pm

    Amy – I love how you turn a less than pleasant situation into something fun. There’s a woman in my book club who belly dances. Her name is Becca. I wonder if she’s also your friend, Rebecca? If so, small world!! Merry Christmas!!!

  2. avaerewyck permalink
    December 8, 2010 1:40 pm

    That’s funny, Melanie! I wonder if it is same belly-dancing Becca in Boulder. My friend normally goes by “Rebecca,” but I’ll definitely ask her.

  3. Rebecca permalink
    December 8, 2010 10:39 pm

    Aw, you’re a doll. I appreciate the effort and I’m glad it turned out alright in the end. I’ve definitely had moments where I’m hating the fact that I don’t always have access to a car when I need it. Usually in winter. Last night, in fact, I was late leaving an appointment which caused me to miss a bus, which caused me to miss the other bus that would have gotten me to my bellydance class in time. Of course the that bus I really, really needed to catch only runs every half hour and I’d just missed it. I was standing there in the cold for twenty five minutes, pissed off about missing half my class and angry at the person who’d kept me late at the appointment. People with cars just don’t seem to understand how important timing is and how carefully things have to be planned out before leaving home. I’d like to say the night ended on a positive note, but really it just reminded me that if I’ve got things scheduled back to back it might be a good idea to reserve a Car Share car. At least in winter. Car sharing is a great addition to public transportation.
    (Also, I’m not the Becca in the book club, but the bellydance community here is small, so if I haven’t met her yet, I probably will!)

  4. avaerewyck permalink
    December 10, 2010 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the commiseration, Rebecca. Sometimes it helps to know other people have nights like that too. You’re right about the car-sharing. Did you see this recent post? https://nocargo.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/douwant2shareurcar/

  5. pawl permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:21 pm

    The only time I’ve had to rely on Public Transportation was when I lived in Boulder. I worked in Denver for a little while and it was an hour and a half commute, one way, if the timing worked out.
    I would get pretty upset as I watched the seconds go by as my supervisor was telling me seemingly unimportant stuff, knowing that if I don’t leave in a few moments I will surely miss bus one of three to get back home, if I hadn’t already missed it. Sometimes, as stated above, the buses, through no fault of their own, were not always reliable. Sometimes, they would even be early. So frustrating.
    I finally began bringing my bike so I could bike the few blocks instead of running to connecting buses. Or to catch up with them if I missed one while captain oblivious-to-the-timing-of-things tells me about his kids and I hadn’t found a polite way of saying maybe we could continue this conversation tomorrow, I’m gonna miss my bus, because technically he was already letting me leave early.

    As a bus driver, I wasn’t doing a fixed route and I had pretty easy clients. They had to pre-schedule their trips. And many of them had not the mental capacity for feeling ‘late’ or inconvenienced, they were just along for the ride. But other people’s driving would set me back from time to time, and ya know there’s just not a whole lot you can do. It’s unfortunate that punctuality speaks of our character and that the ability to keep that reputation is in the hands of the unforeseen and other forces and that with some battles losing just seems inevitable, so one can really only sit back and accept that in those instances, you’re just along for the ride.

  6. avaerewyck permalink
    January 5, 2011 1:34 pm

    Yah, the B/BX is not a bus I’d want to have to deal with daily – that’ll add up to taking years of your life. I’ve been spoiled by D.C. metro trains that run every three minutes at rush-hour and have nice little marquees that tell you how much longer you have to wait in the warm, dry station. I got a dose of that again during my holiday travels, and it was hard to come back to RTD. But I shouldn’t complain – if I don’t love my local public transit system, how can I expect it to love me?

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