My hatred for buses began in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania... with the horrible Blue Loop.
Bloop: Vehicle of nightmares.
I developed my first aversion towards buses on the second day of Kindergarten. I'll never forget watching my mother's confused expression, the smile still wide on her face while her waving hand dropped as the yellow public school bus sped past my driveway. I had pulled my new floral baseball cap over my eyes and began to cry. Convinced that I would never see my mother again because the bus driver was taking me to a place filled with nightmares and cigarette smoke and keeping me in a room with all of her pet ferrets, five year old Lauren couldn't be consoled at the next bus stop down the street. The bus driver forgot I was still on the bus. I should have known then.
For real. Ew.
During my first three years at Penn State, I refused to ride the bus alone. Sure, I would take the bus at night with my friends while drunk students swayed and sang our favorite football cheers. Sometimes I could even be convinced to take it downtown if a few of my girlfriends convinced me the trek was too far for heels. But I never rode that terrible thing alone. I would hike in the snow for miles, inflicting a lot of unnecessary pain upon myself just to avoid that bus. "Freeze warning?! Only stay outside for 10 minutes at a time, you say? Whatever Weatherman! I will take breaks! I will thaw in coffee shops and regain feeling in my legs in lecture halls." DON'T tell me to ride that bus.
On a gloomy, overcast day in November, I walked toward my apartment as a drizzly, icy rain began to fall. I was at a building on campus that was almost a mile walk away from home. Up ahead, I could see the Blue Loop approaching the bus stop. Today would be the day! I would finally muster up the courage and get on that bus! Ride it all the way home! Ride in the warmth home to happiness!
I got on the bus and proudly sat in my seat. Girl conquers bus. Take that, bus.
I rode the bus that day for a few stops when I began to notice something was wrong. The driver was driving away from where I wanted to be going, and people were getting off at the stops, but no one was getting on. Strange, I thought. These people don't have the fiery courage that I have to conquer this unruly bus!
But suddenly, everyone was gone and the only person left on the bus with me was the driver. He drove away, away from the campus, away from downtown, away from anywhere I wanted to be and pulled into a parking lot. He turned off the bus.
What was this? Was he going to murder me? Was this finally the day I would be kidnapped and forced to live with a smoker and a house full of ferrets? I only had a minute to think about my inevitable ferret filled future because after a moment the bus driver turned around in his seat and gave me a brief look of jaded indifference.
And with that the man shrugged his shoulders, stood up, and got off the bus.
Oh what the heck.
WHAT? Seriously? I sat there for a few minutes, confused, wondering how my courageous bus trip and turned so terrible so quickly. Defeated, I got off the bus and walked an hour home in the cold Pennsylvania wind. When I got home that afternoon, my friends couldn't stop laughing as I told them my story while trying to thaw my red cheeks and ears. That day ruined it for me. The Bloop ruined it all.
Three years later, I found myself in the Bronx riding the bus home one night with two of my coworkers. One of my coworkers had just started the job earlier that week, and we were giving her a tour of our site in the Bronx.
The bus was filled with loud people who were yelling in Spanish and an icy rain poured down the windows, blocking our view of the dark sidewalks of Tremont. We were pretty sure that we were going in the wrong direction, and I was pretty sure that I was going to die. I was going to die on this B40 bus somewhere in the Bronx next to this man clutching a chicken. That was the end for me. Y pollo.
We tried to ask for directions, and everyone started trying to answer our quiery all at once in Spanish and broken English. We rode along into the night deeper into the wrong direction. "It's not ALWAYS like this," my one coworker told the newer one as she looked around feverishly at the men wearing matching colored bandanas and the women bickering loudly about dinner. The old man clutched his chicken closer to his lap. The bus screeched to a halt and we lurched forward.
But she was lying. The bus is always like that.