Today was Big Bus day, and I can say with certainty that the wheels on most of the buses do in fact go round and round.
Daniel will be taking courses at the community college in Sterling this term. As a point of reference, the campus is 7 1/2 miles (12 km) away.
The problem is an ugly transit issue: we live in Reston and Daniel doesn’t drive. He can’t ride a bike, and so we gave him a bus pass, which served him quite well during the last term, when all his classes were actually in Reston, but getting to Sterling (the main NVCC campus) is a bit more tricky. Sterling is in a different county with different bus service.
So, last night I spent from 10 PM until 1AM researching tricky ways of exploiting the public transit loopholes to get Daniel quickly to Sterling. Well, turns out there are no loopholes; in fact, the whole thing was kind of like a snarl of fishing line, dipped in bait, and left to rot in the bottom of the boat. The shortest, most efficient trip using the bus was going to take 2 hours and 15 minutes, with 4 transfers. Remember when I said this was 7 1/2 miles away?
Daniel said he was willing to make this sacrifice, so at 11:30 today we set out, telephonic devices in hand, ready to make this bus ride work. It was a cold, clear day, in the low thirties (around 0c) and our first task was to catch the RIBS 3 bus. Turns out we got there about 20 minutes before the arrival so we had a good long time to stare at the paper wasp nest swinging about 40 feet in the air, from a hickory branch no larger than a pencil. I bet it was bigger than a basketball. I smirked to Daniel that it is either a symbol of God’s mercy and love to all creatures, or a friggin piñata from Hell. Turns out it was a sign. “TURN BAAAAACK….” the bees said. We should have listened to the bees.
RIBS, by the way, stands for Reston Inbound Bus Service. Sometimes I take RIBS 4 to work. It makes me hungry for barbecue. Anyway… RIBS got us to the main Reston transit terminal with a tour to the goverment buildings, the hospital, and finally the place where we needed to catch our next leg: 981.
This is where things started going wrong. See, 981 goes two ways: either to West Falls Church (the WRONG way) or to Dulles International Airport, with a stop at our next transfer, Herndon/Monroe Ave. Park & Ride.
At 12:20 we were happily cruising to—you guessed it—West Falls Church. Yep-a one way trip almost halfway to Washington DC. I asked the bus driver if I had to board another bus to get back going the right way. She rolled her eyes and shrugged, “Well, you can if you want to.” Apparently I had woken her from her nap or something. I can be a real sack of dicks that way. This set us back about an hour.
Long story short, Herndon/Monroe Park & Ride far as we made it before Daniel blew his top. “This is stupid, and it’s not going to work!” he announced to half the bus station. He was probably right. We left the house at 11:30 and here we were, two hours later, barely THREE MILES from our house. He could have thrown a harness around half a dozen squirrels and been pulled to Herndon on a skateboard in less time than this trip took.
It was cold, and we were demoralized, so I took a picture of a hobo. That always makes me happy. Share your hobos—spread the love, mama always said, so here’s a picture of a hobo. He had a better trip than we did. We decided that daniel’s time would be better spent if he called a taxi service and blew $20 getting to the campus. Hell, it’s only fifteen minutes away, and you probably won’t be licked or shouted at, or asked if you have any nicotine gum or goat jerky, in a taxi.
The moral of the story? God, I dunno .There’s not really a moral. Just don’t ride to friggin NVCC using public transit unless you really, really want your next trip to the therapist to be about why your son should turn eighteen already and get his stinking driver’s license.