Nothing can quite make me re-evaluate every decision I’ve ever made like running to a bus stop. My life isn’t perfect, in part because I’m not Scottish acting legend Ewan McGregor, and because I have not made the decisions required to be perfectly satisfied. I’m pretty poor because I decided to get a job that I liked. I have little to no privacy because I rent a rent a room in a house belonging to someone who loves having house guests and not telling the rapidly deteriorating tenant who also lives there. My credit is probably garbage because I’ve googled my name and the other person that pops up seems like the kind of person who would steal the identity of anyone who shares their name and then take out a bunch of credit cards under my/our name. But my finances, my housing, my credit identity, those are all such big things with so many moving parts.
When I check my bank account, I recognize my poverty because single-digit numbers are easy to understand and Chase has an accountant whose only job it is to laugh at me whenever I log into their website. Running to a bus stop is not the same as being poor. Poverty is big, influencing everything in my life, always in the background like being in love or hating the president. Seeing the bus you ride to get to work on time barreling down the road when you’re still 100 yards from the uncomfortable wood-textured plastic bench you should have been dozing off on is an animal entirely different from poverty or discomfort or the inevitable theft of my identity.
Despite what a lot of rich, easily sunburned people say, I don’t really blame myself for being poor. Being late for the bus, however, only happens because the chief export of my brain is bad ideas. I am a foolish person, and the best reminder of that I could ever need is seeing the bold blue face of the bus I desperately need charging up the road. In that moment, the bus mounting a hill, my foot on a crack in the sidewalk, my mother somewhere clutching her broken back, and I am hurled back in time to reconsider my life up to that moment. Did I really need to make that second cup of tea? That added another 10 minutes. Why did I think it was a good idea to air dry after my shower? 5 minutes. What possessed me to mind control my cat with a laser pointer? 20 minutes gone there. And breakfast, why breakfast? 1 minute down the drain that I could have spent playing with the laser pointer or walking to the bus. And why did I wake up when I could have just stayed up all night looking at pictures of other cats and watching Netflix? That’s 5 hours I could have given to The Office, and then I wouldn’t have had to go through all that awful business of waking up and realizing I’m still alive.
But I was a fool, a fool who ended up sprinting to a bus stop, leaving a faint residue of sweat and hot panic, and I didn’t make it. The bus drove by about .3 nanoseconds before I got to the stop. Maybe if I hadn’t waved I wouldn’t have been so wind resistant. Maybe if I hadn’t shouted “wait,” the bus driver wouldn’t have thought I was out for an early morning sing ‘n run. Maybe if I had been wearing my 100% ANSI certified fluorescent polyester fabric vest with multiple pockets then the driver would have seen me more clearly and pitied the disheveled mess he saw.
But that’s just not how it went.
Instead, I waited 25 minutes for the next bus, got to work, nobody noticed I was only 10 minutes early instead of my usual 35 which is a pretty accurate depiction of my particular flavor of neurosis. Then I started work, and my students were loud, and it was hot, and I saw a determined-looking bird carrying a leaf larger than its body, and somewhere driving around town, probably passing other suffering public commuters, the bus driver that left me probably has no idea he and I are mortal enemies now, and I do not forgive such transgressions.