I have good days and bad days. Some bad days are worse than others. This morning was hard. I have a hard time getting out of bed most days, but today was worse, much worse than usual. If it weren't for Kiyose's gentle coaxing and patience, I would never have gotten up. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn't.
We had to walk down the street to catch the bus, because my dawdling caused us to miss our regular bus. Thus, we were already a bit later than usual getting downtown. I normally wander through Border's just about every morning, which is not such a good thing for my pocketbook. I end up buying books, baubles, miniature sunflower gardens, etc. — things I really don't need, but I have the money and they look cool so I buy them. Today, I didn't go into Borders because I already had a book to read. I waited outside for the bus, since it was just about time for it to come.
For reasons I didn't yet understand, the bus I normally catch in front of Borders turned the corner before it reached us. I thought that was odd, but really I didn't care enough to run after it. Sometimes new drivers screw up. There would be another bus in 15 minutes. People around me were complaining that the bus hadn't come for a long time, but at that point I didn't make the connection. So, I went into the food court outside Border's to sit and read my book while I waited for another bus. A strange security guard whom I had never seen before came over and told me I could not sit there unless I had purchased something. I thought about digging out the at leasts $100 of Borders receipts in my purse to beat him over the head with, but instead I questioned him and (very politely) argued the point that I come in there every day and some days I spend money and others I don't, but I'm pretty sure it averages out enough that I should be able to sit there without being harassed while I'm waiting for a bus.
He didn't budge. He wasn't exactly hostile, but he had that look about him, that “I have no power in my real life, so I'm going to take what little pretend power this security job gives me and use it to make myself feel bigger and if it ruins your day, so much the better” kind of attitude. I turned and walked into Borders, where they pretty much know me by now. I lodged a complaint with the cashier, asking her to pass it on to the manager. Then I went back out and found the security guard again. I asked him how long he'd been working there.
“Four years,” he said with a little too much pride. I mean come on, he's not even allowed to carry a weapon.
“Funny, I haven't seen you around before. Do you normally work at a different location?”
“No. Right here.” He was starting to fidget.
“Really?” I asked with exaggerated surprise. I couldn't resist making him sweat just a little. He'd really pissed me off. “You must be invisible most days,” I continued, “or perhaps you work a different shift?”
He coughed. “Nope. Right here,” he repeated, but this time I could see that he was beginning to get a little nervous.
“I'm here every day,” I repeated, “Every day.”
He shuffled his feet but didn't say anything.
“What's your name?” I asked.
“Tim is all you need.”
“Tim what?” I repeated slowly.
“Tim is all you need to know.” He was really fidgeting now.
“I see,” I smiled, “Well, have a nice day, 'Tim'.” And I turned my back on “Tim” and went over to a couple of other security kids (Unlike “Tim,” these two were relatively young, fit and self-confident enough not to flaunt their security-guardness) and asked them where and how I could make a complaint. They told me, very cordially I thought. I wonder if they are as sick of “Tim” as I am?
It was just about time for the bus again, so I went back outside to watch for it. It turned the corner again. This time, I ran after it, because I realized that something major must have happened to alter the route and I would probably stand there all day before another bus came by on the correct route. On the way to the bus, it occurred to me that the bus driver would have heard a lot of complaining this morning, so I made a conscious effort to forget about “Tim” and be kind to the harried driver. Once on the bus, I asked in a quiet and polite tone of voice, “Why did the bus turn the corner?”
“We're running the 43 University route.”
“But, why? What's up?”
“It's the 43 University route.”
“Does it go down eastlake? or by the Hutch?”
“It's the 43 University!” He was getting loud.
“I don't know what that means! I need to know how to get where this bus usually goes!” I confess that I was getting a bit loud at this point myself. In my mind, I was asking a simple question and he was deliberately not attempting to answer it.
“Call metro!” he literally shouted at me.
“You won't get any help,” a woman on the bus spoke up, “There was some kind of major accident and the buses are being diverted. No one seems to know anything.”
I sat down, because I didn't know what else to do. “What is the number to the metro information line?” I asked, stupidly, as though I thought the driver was going to do anything so helpful as to give me a number to call. Fortunately the woman across from me, who had spoken up before, had the number. She looked as frazzled as I felt. Her hair was damp from the rain and her huge, brown eyes were round with anxiety. I could tell by looking at her that I was not the only one the driver had yelled at this morning.
I dialed the number and waited. A recording answered, asking me to press the appropriate number and listing off the menu items. No option was listed for “speak to a customer service representative,” so I pressed the number for “Commendations, Complaints and Suggestions” hoping that I would get a human being that way. After a minute or so of hold music and “your call is important to us” recordings, I heard a click on the line and the connection died. My eyes stung. I could feel the tears, but I didn't start crying yet.
I tried to dial the number again, but my phone beeped at me twice and then shut off. Dead battery. Part of my brain was thinking, “What else is going to happen today?” and another part was trying to shut the first part up because most of me just didn't want to know.
An older woman got on at the next stop. My new friend and I were commiserating and trying to figure out what we were each going to do about getting to work. Both of us were near tears by now, both late to work, both lost. The older woman gave us each advice on which bus to take to get to where we were trying to go. I needed to get off at the next stop to follow her suggestion.
On the way off the bus, I said to the bus driver, “I realize that you are having a bad day, but I'm a person too, just like you, just trying to get to work.”
“It's not just you! It's hundreds of people, all morning long!”
“But, this is the first time I've spoken to you today.”
“Just leave me alone,” he shouted, “LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
I got off the bus and there was a man standing next to the bus stop with a clip board. I asked him if he was with metro, but he wasn't. I was really crying now. Another person at the bus stop asked me if the bus driver had just gone psycho on me. I explained how he had yelled at me when I got on the bus and then yelled at me again when I got off. About that time, it started hailing. All the people at the bus stop were trying to calm me down and being sympathetic, and I just kept apologizing. I couldn't stop crying, and finally I just dug out my umbrella and took off down the street in the hail.