Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Neither Swiss nor trains - 3.02 #sol22 Story Challenge

Like many, I suspect, in the Two Writing Teachers community, I can easily lose myself in a book. That's the comfortable (oblivious?) position in which I found myself early Tuesday morning, rocking side to side with Kate DiCamillo's The Beatryce Prophecy in my hands, while the transit bus trundled me closer to school.

Even with the charming story holding me rapt, my internal clock kept ticking away. Thus, I punctually peeked up from the text thinking my stop must be approaching. My eyes swept the streetscape and didn't register any familiar landmarks. I felt my internal clock -- or some other part of my anatomy -- do its own fluttery version of arrhythmia. Where were we?

A second, more careful look confirmed the bus was a few blocks south of where I expected, having missed its usual turn toward my place of employment. I swiveled to look back at two siblings who are often the only passengers with me on the bus at this hour. One hadn't stopped staring down at his phone; the other showed wide eyes and a slightly slack jaw. She had noticed what had happened, but wasn't sure what to do about it.

I moved to the front of the bus, possibly violating one federal law by speaking with the driver and respecting another by remaining behind the yellow line. Turns out he was a fill-in on the route, didn't know it well. We arrived at the terminus station a few moments later and talked through the available solutions. (School lay about a mile away, so walking was an option, bolstered by the arrival of mild weather.)

In the end, I coached the driver through retracing our steps and returning to his appointed rounds. We still had a few hiccups, overshooting our stop by a few hundred feet. "Which stop do you want?" the driver asked. "This one," I said. "Which one?" he repeated. "The one right here," I said, as I watched it slide past. "Which one?" You get the picture. Before disembarking, I checked that the driver knew how to finish the route and return to the end of the line. He said he did. With that, the other two students and I disembarked from the bus, with sufficient time to spare before school started and a story to tell.


  1. Oh no! I think I would have had a heart attack! So good you kept your cool and handled the situation. "This one." "Which one?" "The one right here." You made me laugh.

  2. Years ago I road a bus home from work. I'd missed my preferred bus working late one night. 220 seemed similar to 224 and I didn't have a map but I wanted to go home. It was a long ride to a long walk. The feeling you captured of "oh no, this is not right" took me back there. I haven't thought of that in 20 years!

    Glad you made it!

  3. A good story to tell! I worried you got too lost in your book but it seems a new driver was the culprit! Loved the part where he kept missing the stops you pointed out. I haven't read the book you referenced but am a big fan of Kate DiCamillo so will have to check it out!

  4. Such a great slice - getting caught in a book with a new bus driver who has a peculiar way of navigating his route. "We still had a few hiccups" is such a funny way of explaining this. Good to see you again, Brian! Has it been 20 years since that fateful summer institute?

    1. 20 years? No way. (But yeah, you're probably right.)

  5. Oh my! I have a very amusing picture in my mind of you patiently explaining to the driver how to follow the route. Teaching never ends, does it?