While I’m on the Subject...

One of the reasons why I still live here besides abject poverty

I wanted to spend at least three days crashing at my friend’s place in the City. I looked forward to this visit for months to celebrate New Year’s with her and several friends.

As usual, we partied galore. And had incredibly funny conversations as the evening wore on which gives you an indication of our state of mind. Actually, earlier we poured through her wardrobe for the right attire while she remained indecisive as to her choices. 

Deeply embedded in thought, she said out loud, “I wonder whether I’ve anything that lights up.”

I said right back, “Sure, hold the lamp in one hand and an extension cord in the other.”

Irritated, she walked away. It didn’t help any that I couldn’t stop laughing.

She muttered, “I knew that was stupid before I said it.” Then, she repeated her statement to another friend in her living room and appended, ”I can’t believe I said that!”

Walking by, I poked my head in and said, “You know, funny thing is that I had the exact thought this morning.”

This is how I keep friends...

The following day, when I heard the weather report, I knew I had to leave. My friend, supportive as ever said, “I knew you didn’t want to spend time with me!”

I wailed, “It’s not as if I have a choice. If the roads are bad, I may not be able to get home. And I have to be there to make sure my pipes don’t burst.” I live in a 100 year-old cottage insulated with lint and halvah. The damn thing tilts a mere 32 degrees and is on stilts.

Over the past several years, I spent my available time caulking every crack and seam inside and outside, wrapping my pipes with heated insulation wire and foam. My cottage is heated with an edenpure ceramic electric heater and a propane gas heater which doesn’t do much for the inside. Outside, the animals surround the cottage where the heat escapes. At least they stay nice and warm.

With my two heating options, I’ve the choice of either dying from an electric fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s always the other options: death by another tree falling on the house or a bullet in the head from someone who relates to the characters in this blog.

At any rate, I disappointed my friend and left late the afternoon of January 1. “The snow’s supposed to reach the City by tomorrow,” I said, “which means it’ll already be there upstate.”

My friend, exasperated with my rapid disappearing act, hugged and kissed me good-bye. At Port Authority, I stood on a short line for the bus, talking with some people who I recognized from up here.

“When I heard the weather report, I knew I had to leave early,” said a woman in a nearby town.

Another woman said, “It snowed yesterday.”

I groaned. “It did?”

I had to text my friend to let her know that it already snowed upstate. I felt the need to validate my early departure. The bus driver let us on the bus and I took a seat at the back and closed my eyes. Half an hour later, I heard the bus shudder to a halt. I peered out the window and saw we were on the shoulder of the highway.

From the front, the bus driver said, “Give me a moment, please. I lost power and have to reboot.”

Minutes later, he started the bus and headed back on the highway. Only to go back on the shoulder to reboot. The third time he called Dispatch.

“Try to go as far as possible,” they recommended.
Meanwhile, I texted my friend. “You’re not going to believe this, but the bus broke down.”

In seconds, my friend texted back, “You should have stayed here.”

I should’ve known that was coming.

The fourth time the bus stopped, desperate, the driver phoned Dispatch. I’ve no idea what ensued on Dispatch’s side because he lowered the volume. Except when he cried out in anguish, “Four TIMES!”

Five minutes later, we were on the road and he pulled into the bus depot. He stopped the bus and encountered a guy who worked there. Minutes later, he warned us, “Bundle up. The new bus is not heated. It’s freezing.” We picked up our belongings and left the bus in the bitter cold. While standing single file to enter the new bus, I overheard the following conversation:

The driver: “Is this bus serviced? Has it been checked, repaired, gassed?”

The depot worker: “I don’t know.”

The driver: “What do you mean you don’t know?”

The depot worker: SHRUG

The passengers boarded the bus which was cold enough to hang raw meat. The driver entered and said, “We’re changing buses.”

Once again, we collected our belongings and descended the bus. This time, we walked to another, even colder than the other. Ten minutes later, we left the depot. In total, it took 40 minutes, yet, the driver more than compensated for the time: he lead footed like crazy.

I sat in the back of the bus, looking at the snow-filled highway and debated whether or not to write a will. Almost an hour later, record time, we arrived at the bus terminal. Covered in snow.

I took a photo of my car and texted it to my friend. “There is a reason why I left in a hurry,” I said, thrilled to be right for once. 

“OMG!” texted my friend. “That’s a lot of snow!”

At that moment I realized we equally guilted each other.

And so starts a new year. Happy 2014!

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