A Busload of Problems
University bus system leads first year alone, crying
When I grow up, I would like to be the kind of woman who never has to ride public transportation. Alas, at this moment in time, it does not seem this is the life I am destined to lead.
My pre-college years conditioned me to hate all natural forms of human mobility. I wholeheartedly believed walking was for peasants — despite my general confusion about concepts like “yielding” and “red lights,” ever since I received my license on June 21, 2010, invincibility has been mine.
I was the hippest of the hip. I was a free spirit, given the liberty to roam as far as the gas tank took me. I often forgot to fill it up, so sometimes that wasn’t very far. But still, the whole thing was hypothetically very awesome.
And then, I came to college. After two days of walking, I was more put out than Teresa Sullivan without a closet full of pantsuits. My legs had the endearing consistency of O-Hill grits, and I felt as if they’d been pummeled by U.Va.-grade jackhammers, which I assume are stronger than normal jackhammers based on the noise they make outside my window at 8 a.m.
Despite its heavy emphasis on college prep, high school did not teach me about the rigors of walking. It also did not teach me what a Barbour jacket is, and this is something I’ve struggled to cope with for a semester and a half.
Sadly, my ignorance only served to augment the brutal reality of the situation. I soon realized just what it meant to have a 9 a.m. class — on Fridays. In Nau. Things were not looking good. Then, it hit me. There was a solution right in sight. Well, it would be in sight in about eight minutes. Eight minutes later, my phone told me it would actually be 20. Theoretically, the answer was in sight.
The University bus system was supposed to be my holy grail. It was not.
Throughout the year, I’ve maintained a naïve, hopeful belief in the public transportation. This time, I think, the bus will come. It will take me straight to the Chapel. It won’t veer unexpectedly to the left. It won’t veer unexpectedly to the right. It won’t veer toward the dorms where the creepy boy from the highlighter party first semester regularly lingers. Maybe he lives there. Maybe he doesn’t. Either way, I really can’t run into him again.
But the unreliable nature of the University bus system has done more than lead me to overdose on discomfort. I would argue that the lack of a coherent system has single-handedly wasted more of my time than “Pretty Little Liars,” “Girls” and overzealous Honor representatives combined. Let me tell you a story.
Twas a frostbitten Friday afternoon, and I trudged back to dorms, anxious to put my studies and the fact that I’d just consumed 887 calories worth of Cheez-its behind me. A thin dusting of snow covered the ground — I promise, this is not fiction — and my pain reached meteoric levels as my leggings refused to stay tucked into my snow boots, inviting the wind to lovingly chafe my exposed shins. As my laptop weighed heavily on my back, I thought — no, I knew — not even Hamlet could understand the depth of my present tragedy.
As I neared McCormick dorms, home sweet Balz rising out of the fog with a beautiful majesty and grace, I couldn’t bear it anymore. It was then my knight in shining armor emerged. And by emerged, I mean almost hit me. It was a bus.
I happily scrambled on board, more than willing to defrost as it made the extended round trip past Gooch, Dillard and Narnia.
Then, the bus turned right instead of left. I realized I did not know where we were going. My head spun. It was if everyone around me was speaking a different language. I pinched myself, and realized everyone was speaking a different language. I was lost, and everyone on the bus was speaking Chinese.
As the bus emptied in front of an ambiguously labeled, dilapidated apartment complex, the driver took notice of me, adorably paralyzed in my clear state of panic.
“Sweetie, we’re here,” she said, apparently assuming anyone dressed like me would live in an apartment complex that looked like it lacked functioning utilities.
I explained my predicament, and kindly asked if it would be possible to be chauffeured back to central Grounds.
The bus driver then proceeded to keep the bus stalled by a 7-Eleven for 13 minutes. With the door open. She told me to take out a book.
I have not willingly taken U.Va. transportation since.
Julia’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.