There's this question on eHarmony, "What's the most adventuresome thing you did this past year?" I never know how to answer that - without regular travels life just seems less adventurous. Today I got my answer.
Eric was going to use his truck to help me get my bed today, which I'm inheriting from Aimee since she'll no longer need it when she gets married tomorrow. But he wasn't available till 6, and I had my sister-in-law Trina's birthday to get to at 8. One must understand that bus system here in Seattle is really not that great- especially if you're going East-West. So I called Metro Transit to find out which bus I needed and when. I waited the requisite 15 minutes before I could get ahold of anyone (after the standard two or more hang-ups because they don't have enough people manning the lines). Just as I arrived at the bus stop I missed one bus headed North. In this particular case I didn't know if I needed to go North or South, so I guessed South.
The guy came on the line just as the bus appeared in the distance. I quickly told him where I needed to go and when, pointing out that I needed to know now because the bus was coming. He proceeded to give a long answer for different routes I should take, as the bus pulled up in front of me. At this point I am shouting at him to stop talking, to listen to me, just to tell me if I should take the bus headed North or South, as he still hasn't gotten around to that. He ignores me and continues. The driver looks at me, as I am telling the Metro Transit official on the phone to tell me which direction to go, and then the driver closes the door and drives off. Now the Metro official listens to me, and tells me I should take the bus that just went South. I told him that was no longer possible, because he wouldn't stop talking long enough to listen to me, and he suggested I take the one headed North. "The one just pulling away across the street?" I ask.
I called Eric and let him know my situation, and he agreed to come pick me up at Market and 15th, a 30 minute walk or 7 minute bus ride. I called Metro again to find out when the next bus was coming, and I was told at 651. Plenty of time to walk to the next stop. Except two buses drove right past me at 649. I called Metro to find out what was going on, and they stated they could only explain when buses should be there, not when they would be. I figured that since the previous buses were evidently running 20-30 minutes late, the next one couldn't possibly be on time, so I could walk to the next bus stop. (I have a fatal flaw in wanting to walk rather than needlessly wait.) I was wrong. The 651 was on time, and pulled past me as I crossed the Ballard Bridge. Thankfully the bridge was being raised for passing boat traffic, so the bus pulled up and stopped abreast of me. I knocked on the door and begged with folded hands to be let in, but understandably, the driver couldn't do so.
So as soon as the partition for the bridge began to lift, I ducked under the pedestrian partition, and ran across the bridge, making it to the other end of the drawbridge portion before that had even been raised. I continued to run down the bridge, to the next bus stop. This is not a small bridge, for those who have not been in Seattle. This is a large bridge. But because of a kindly bus driver who waited 30 seconds for me, I made that bus.
Panting, I paid my fare, and stood there, good for about 30 seconds. And then I started to have a stomach ache. I realized I needed to sit down. The next event as like nothing I've ever experienced. I laid my head on the seat back, and my next thought was that I must have been tired, for I'd fallen asleep. I realized I'd been dreaming of this science fiction book about talking communal dogs I'd been reading. Then it dawned on me that I'd gotten enough sleep, so I couldn't have been tired, and it occurred to me that I must have blacked out. I immediately felt to see if I'd had another stroke, an omnipresent fear. And I struggled to make my way out of that lethargy that accompanies a black out, going to the bus driver to ask if I'd missed my stop. "No," he told me, "We're just pulling up to it now." I'd blacked out for only about four blocks, and likely none of the other passengers had even realized it.
Eric was waiting for me at the stop, and that might have been the end of this eventful story. It was not. His car sounded strange, he said. He'd lent it to someone the day before and they had neglected to include the radiator cap with the car when they returned it to him. It began banging and pinging, and finally ground to a halt. Not to worry- we were on a downhill slope, one of many in Seattle. Of more concern was Eric's feeling that we could coast down that slope with enough momentum to make it up the next hill, so as to get to the main drag of Aurora. We almost did. We stopped again, with traffic behind us on the two-lane road, and were rescued by a guy who donated his work-out time to help push the truck. As the truck picked up speed I jumped on the back and we coasted down that hill to the Aurora, and were saved by the presence of gas stations.
No, not really. There were no gas stations there. We went through the red slowly, so as not to lose momentum, and took a right to the Shell gas station I saw in the distance. But to get there, we had to cross at a No Left Turn sign, and into oncoming traffic, on a 6-lane road. To accomplish this, I had to get out, stopping oncoming traffic with my hand and ushering Eric through, so he could take back parking lots to the gas station, where we could get water to fix the radiator and hopefully heal the car.
We couldn't find the water at the gas station. I went inside to ask where it was. The attendant said the water was broken, but I could buy a gallon for a $1.65. After verifying that this was indeed a gas station, I returned to Eric, and he happily reported the car was again running. So we drove slowly North, where he knew there was a (real) gas station, and we made it- just short of one hill. There was no way we could get up there now, but Eric was excited that at least we were on a six-lane road and no longer blocking traffic. I was thinking how much faster cars go on a six-lane road.
Thankfully another kindly gentleman came up with his souped-up pick-up with the racing engine inside, and offered to tow us. Unfortunately, neither he nor Eric had their towlines with them, which was odd, considering how handy both of them were. So we stripped some rope from the back of Eric's bed, and used that to pull the truck. Unfortunately the rope had seen better days, and it took three attempts before the rope could pull without breaking in two. The racing pickup pulled us into the gas station, breaking it's line just as we pulled in. And they did have water.
A guy who I later learned was named Jesper came up and asked if I had change for a twenty so he could make a phone call. I told him I didn't, but suggested that he try the convenience store, which I was also headed to to replenish fluids after all this running and pushing large trucks. When I came out, Jesper was going through the guide, looking for hotels. Turns out he was on holiday from Denmark, and was desperate to find a place for the night. He tried my cell, but still couldn't find a place to stay. As it was now 755, and too late to get the bed, Eric had kindly agreed to take me back to my place to get the present and drop me off downtown. I offered Jesper a ride to downtown, which he gladly accepted. Along the way he called other places, but every where was booked. The local hostel informed us that there were two football games and a large conference in town, and there was no hope.
So I was blessed to have Jesper spend the night with me tonight, and come to the birthday party, where he was roundly well-received. I still have no bed, but here is the marvelous providence of God- had Eric not been busy, had I not missed those buses, had the car not broke down, had I gotten a bed- Jasper would not have had one tonight, and I would have missed out on getting to know a very interesting guy.