Sunday, September 12, 2010


NOTE: This story makes people cry.

“Where'd you grow up?” people ask me.

I used to never have a good answer for that. How can you tell where you grew up? Growing up doesn't happen all at once like losing your virginity or getting a tattoo. It's a lot of little things, and some big things, that happen over time. Like a mountain, there are earthquakes that slice a big chunk off or push a new peak up; but the wind and rain work their will into you over time. We don't see all the little things, and sometimes when the earthquakes come, we're too close to notice. Sometimes we do notice.

When I was nineteen, I lived in Louisiana. I worked in the oil fields of the Gulf of Mexico. Three weeks each month I spent on a drilling rig, totin' pipes and haulin' mud. The fourth I spent at Steve and Mary's. The rent was cheap and it was a decent place to crash. Whenever Steve was in from the fields, the rest of the crew would party at his place. I was the only one that lived there.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Not To Ride The Bus

So, part of the wreckage of my past that I gotta deal with is riding the bus everywhere I go.

I don't mind. I get to read, you meet all kinds of interesting people, and lemme tell you, I KNOW how to ride a bus.

I spent 8 years up north in Minneapolis which has, in my opinion, one of the finest public transportation systems I've seen in America.

Here in Cocoa, Florida, there is definitely room for improvement.

I got dropped off going Northbound on US1 near a place I had to do some business. I did my business, went back to where I got dropped off and noticed something peculiar.

There was no stop on the Southbound side of the street.

WTF? This isn't how buses are supposed to run.

I started walking North on the Southbound side of the street, thinking that surely there would be a stop before too long. Note here, please, that I'm headed the opposite direction of where I want to go, I just figured it made more sense for a stop to be in that direction.

I walked a block, no stop, two blocks, no stop. I started to get worried. I pulled out the schedule to check the map, yep, the same bus drives back on this road, southbound, so it would come, sooner or later. I checked the times, since I didn't have a watch I had no idea what time it should be there, but I know that it was set to come back to the original spot once an hour, and I had to have missed the one that came between me getting there and me getting back to the stop.

I started getting kinda pissed off. These people have no idea how to run a bus line. They are obviously idiots, and I needed to write a strongly worded letter to the man in charge and give him a sizable piece of my mind.

At this point, I decided that I was developing a definite resentment against the bus people.

After about a mile or so, I decided that I'd cut over to another street and take a different bus route back to where I wanted to go, and I told a few people when I got there about how fucked up the bus system in this po-dunk little town really was. I mean, honestly, don't they know how to do anything?

Today I'm riding the bus and I shared this story with another rider.

"Oh, that's a flag route," she said.

"A flag route? What the fuck is a flag route," I asked.

"You know, you just flag the bus down when you see it and they pick you up. There aren't any official stops."

"I've never heard of such a thing," I said. "Shit, it would be a good idea to write that sort of thing down, dont'cha think?"

"Check the route schedule."

At which point I pulled out my schedule, the same damn schedule I looked at 50 times the day before while cussing the city planners who designed this piece of crap, and there, in bold type, at the very top of the time tables, was a simple sentence.

This is a FLAG ROUTE, the bus will stop at any safe place along the designated route to pick up passengers.

Son of a bitch.

So what's my point?

I know everything, and I will do things my way.

In this case, that kind of thinking accomplished the following:

1) I got all the information I wanted, but I looked right past the information I needed.

2) I put myself further away from my goal by following my own best thinking.

3) I generated an unnecessary resentment based on the incomplete information I was working with.

4) It took somebody familiar with the way things work to point me back at the text to find the information I refused to find for myself.

5) I did a lot more work than I would have had to, if I weren't so convinced things should run the way I'd make them.
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