Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, November 7, 2008


"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
-William Feather

I hopped on board a bus today. It might not strike an observer as being of much consequence but I have been postponing it for as long as I have lived in the neighbourhood.
When Spouse and I resided in California, I was, I suspect, the most frequently seen passenger on the local bus service once I mastered the schedules; but I am initially reluctant to wave down a bus that I have no prior experience with. I have never been what one would call an extrovert and I give altogether too much consideration to what bus drivers might think of me.
After much deliberation I set off this morning, determined to make my way to the local library.
As I stood shivering by an enormous sign that helpfully bore a symbol of a bus, wild and irrational thoughts concerning bus etiquette jogged through my mind.
What was the protocol for ensuring the bus would stop? Ought I to wave when I saw it heading toward me? What if I waved, and it happened not to be the bus I required- how dreadfully awkward to make a vehicle halt for me unnecessarily! What sort of a wave would be the appropriate one? What if I waved and the driver assumed I was sending a greeting to a neighbour across the road? Or worse- if he thought I was waving him on, that I did not need him to stop! There again, a bold and confident wave might be construed as the equivalent of barking an order. What if my wave was not vigorous enough to be seen, and the fellow steamed past, leaving me embarrassed and busless?
As for disembarking the vehicle: how would I, not knowing the bus route, be sure when I was approaching my destination? Ought I to speak up? Or would there be a bell? What if I found the bell, and rang it, and discovered that it was the wrong corner?
I wondered, even before the excursion began, how to get home again. What if I was unable to get off the bus? I would circle the area in an endless loop, roll stupidly past our apartment again and again and again, too dumbstruck to request a stop, until at last, as evening fell, I would see Spouse's car back in its usual place, and, eventually, Spouse would grow so ravenous waiting for dinner that he would be forced to position himself in the middle of the road, fling up his hands and force the driver to halt the bus so that I could stumble off.
In the end, none of those worst-case scenarios transpired. All the drivers were friendly and accommodating, nobody seemed to suspect at all that I was feeling like a fish out of water, and I carefully watched what every other passenger did in order to deduce the right steps to take.
I knew I had attained the art of blending in when some stranded fellow asked if I knew about a particular bus route.
I have, for better or worse, become one of the locals.


Pauline said...

I had to chuckle at your worst case scenarios. How often we let our fears keep us from trying something new. Glad to hear you overcame them ;)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, I was scared- I know it was irrational but I will be much better next time and one day I'll wonder what the fuss was about :) I also found that taking local transport makes me feel I know more about the town in one afternoon that I've learned in nearly two years of living here.

Beth said...

This made me laugh because today I started taking a knitting class--I felt so bold driving the 45 minutes to class and so brave for deciding to learn something new. But as I got closer, I got more and more frightened of how to behave, how to walk in, how to introduce myself, how to admit that I do not know how to knit--it all turned out fine as did your bus ride but I recognized the anxiety that you wrote of.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, that's exactly what I meant- and doesn't it feel irrational? But when it's yourself in the middle of something new, it hardly matters: it feels overwhelming no matter how much people tell you to just do it.
I'm glad your knitting class turned out fine for you- you'll feel much braver next time :)

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